Several officials from foreign diplomatic missions and opposition politicians have held a secret discussion to explore the possibility of putting former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge as the Common Opposition candidate if President Mahinda Rajapaksa calls for an early Presidential election next year, it is reliably learnt.
The Constitution provides for a President to call for a Presidential election only after holding office for a period of four years. The diplomat who attended the discussion has said the President is looking at calling for an early Presidential election next year and that he is considering amending the Constitution for the purpose.
The official from the High Commission has said the Presidential advisors have explained to him that the government would face a severe financial crisis next year and that the country would also be faced with human rights issues. The advisors have pointed out that the President would have to call for an early Presidential election to show that he had the people’s mandate in the event heads of states try to boycott the Commonwealth Heads of State Summit scheduled to be held in Sri Lanka next year citing human rights issues.
A lengthy discussion has therefore been held to decide on the Common Opposition candidate in the event of such a scenario. The High Commission official has explained that support of senior government ministers disgruntled with Preisdent Mahinda Rajapaksa, the TNA, SLMC and Fonseka would be received if Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge is put forward as the Common Opposition candidate.
However, a young opposition politician who was at the discussion had pointed out that Kumaratunge had a legal impediment in contesting the election. He had explained that Kumaratunge had been found guilty of abusing the powers vested with her in a case (Water’s Edge case) that was filed before the Supreme Court and she had paid a fine of Rs. 2 million that imposed on her. She would therefore have a legal impediment in contesting an election.
The High Commission official had then asked the young parliamentarian to give him a report on the legal situation related to the matter raised by him.
Several attempts to contact Kuamartunge over the telephone to verify these matters failed. However, an official from her office said that neither Kumaratunge nor her children are keen on engaging in politics.