Sri Lanka’s Rajapaksa removes chief justice after impeachment

COLOMBO,  (Reuters) – President Mahinda Rajapaksa removed Sri Lanka’s chief justice from office with immediate effect yesterday, defying a Supreme Court ruling that the impeachment process was illegal and setting the stage for a possible constitutional crisis.

Rajapaksa’s ruling party voted to impeach Shirani Bandaranayake, Sri Lanka’s first female chief justice, on Friday.

The move has caused an outcry among opposition lawmakers, religious leaders and lawyers, prompted the United States and United Nations to voice concern for the integrity of justice in the South Asian state, and may alarm foreign investors.

Shirani Bandaranayake
Shirani Bandaranayake

“The president has said in the removal statement that he was in agreement with the request for the removal of the chief justice from office made in the said address of parliament,” Rajapaksa’s office said in a statement.

Bandaranayake’s lawyers confirmed that she had been notified of her dismissal, but declined to say if she would leave office.
The Court of Appeal has also nullified the ruling of a parliamentary panel which found Bandaranayake guilty of financial irregularities and failure to declare assets.

Lawyers across Sri Lanka boycotted courts for a second day running on Friday in protest at the vote.
A black cloth was hung at the entrance of the Supreme Court building in Colombo, and some lawyers inside covered their mouths with black cloth or wore black headbands.

Lawyers Collective, a judiciary activist group, has urged all Supreme Court judges not to accept Rajapaksa’s appointment of a new or acting chief justice.

“The politically motivated process of removal of the Chief Justice was nothing but a misuse and abuse of constitutional provisions and Standing Orders,” the lawyers collective said in a statement on Sunday.

“The conscience of the nation and the bar is disturbed and is in anguish – and will never accept the illegal and unconstitutional removal of the Chief Justice.”

The clash between the government and judiciary has underlined the power wielded by Rajapaksa and his family in the island nation, where he has been president since 2005.

Relations between Rajapaksa and Bandaranayake soured after the chief justice ruled in September that a bill submitted by the president’s younger brother, Basil Rajapaksa, proposing an 80 billion rupee ($614 million) development budget, must be approved by nine provincial councils.

The ruling party filed an impeachment motion on Nov. 6 and a month later a parliamentary panel appointed by Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa, the president’s elder brother, found her guilty of three out of the five charges it probed.

Political risk consultancy Eurasia Group said in a note published on Thursday that foreign investors’ concerns about the rule of law in Sri Lanka had been heightened by the row, but that the domestic political costs for Rajapaksa were minimal.


U.S. government to remain closed on Monday as Senate still short of deal

WASHINGTON,  (Reuters) – A U.S. government shutdown will enter its third day today as Senate negotiators failed to reach a deal late on Sunday on Democrats’ demand for legislation protecting “Dreamers,” young people brought to the country illegally as children.

Turkish forces push into Syria, battle Kurdish militia

AZAZ, Syria,  (Reuters) – Turkey’s army and rebel allies battled U.S.-backed Kurdish militia in Syria’s Afrin province on Sunday, stepping up a two-day-old campaign against YPG fighters that has opened a new front in Syria’s civil war.

Heavy casualties after overnight battle at Kabul hotel

KABUL,  (Reuters) – Gunmen in army uniforms who stormed Kabul’s Intercontinental Hotel late on Saturday and battled Afghan Special Forces through the night killed more than 30 people and wounded many more, although the final toll of dead and wounded may still be higher.

U.S. lawmakers urge AT&T to cut commercial ties with Huawei -sources

WASHINGTON,  (Reuters) – U.S. lawmakers are urging AT&T Inc, the No. 2 wireless carrier, to cut all commercial ties to Chinese phone maker Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and oppose plans by telecom operator China Mobile Ltd to enter the U.S.

China’s top paper says U.S. forcing China to accelerate S.China Sea deployments

  BEIJING, (Reuters) – China’s top newspaper, decrying Washington as a trouble-maker, said yesterday U.S.

Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly.

We built using new technology. This makes our website faster, more feature rich and easier to use for 95% of our readers.
Unfortunately, your browser does not support some of these technologies. Click the button below and choose a modern browser to receive our intended user experience.

Update my browser now