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8 January, 2019 00:00 00 AM
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Sri Lanka court refuses to test Sirisena’s sanity

AFP, Colombo
Sri Lanka court refuses to test Sirisena’s sanity

A Sri Lanka court yesterday rejected calls to subject the president to a mental health examination after he sacked a former ally, dissolved parliament and plunged the country into crisis.

The Court of Appeal rejected a petition to force Maithripala Sirisena before a panel of psychiatrists to scrutinise his mental state in the wake of the political upheaval in the Indian Ocean island.

The turmoil began in October when Sirisena dismissed Sri Lanka's prime minister and dissolved parliament, both decisions later overturned by the country's highest court.

For more than a month, Sri Lanka drifted without a government as two rivals jostled for the prime ministership and protests rocked the capital Colombo. The instability ended peacefully when Sirisena's controversial appointee Mahinda Rajapakse stood down, and the deposed prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe returned to power with the support of parliament.

Mental infirmity is grounds for removing a president if two-thirds of parliament agree, but no party or coalition in the legislature commands such a majority.

The two-judge bench of the appeals court said it did not have the jurisdiction to force Sirisena to be examined, and ordered the petitioner pay the state 100,000 rupees ($540) in legal costs. Sirisena came to power in 2015 in a coalition with Wickremesinghe. But personal differences festered and their alliance imploded in October when Sirisena kicked his former ally out of office.

Wickremesinghe refused to stand down and allow Rajapakse, a former president and divisive war-era strongman, to take his place.

The crisis dragged on for weeks until the Supreme Court denied Rajapakse the right to rule and he bowed out in December.

Some factions within Sri Lanka's parliament have pushed for Sirisena to be investigated for orchestrating an alleged coup.

Meanwhile, ten years after top newspaper editor Lasantha Wickrematunge was killed by a suspected government death squad the failure to secure a prosecution has come to highlight Sri Lanka's struggle with a dark past.

Just days before he was due to give evidence against the brother of the country's then strongman leader Mahinda Rajapakse, two assailants on motorcycles blocked the car of the 50-year-old editor of the Sunday Leader newspaper before smashing the windows and stabbing him in the head.

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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