UNP deputy leader and Gampaha district Parliamentarian Karu Jayasuriya has issued a statement expressing regret for his inadvertent role in stabilising the Rajapaksa regime in the past. He has declared his intention of devoting the remainder of his life to face the challenge posed to the nation by the 18th Constitutional amendment
Following is the full text of Mr.Karu ayasuriya’s statement:
Two years ago I rendered my support to the government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa when it decided to go to war against a terrorist scourge. I did not come to that decision lightly. It gave me great pain to change ranks and move away from the United National Party for a time. Yet in that instance, I did so in the firm belief that the national need was greater at the time than the needs of the political party I had chosen to serve through.
I made that difficult decision in the hope that I would be contributing to an effort to prevent the north and east of my beloved country falling into the hands of a tyrant. I am proud to have supported my country’s troops to achieve the great victory over terrorism, yet today, a few days after the most undemocratic, ludicrous amendment was passed in parliament ensuring the virtually unending reign of the incumbent President, I am filled with regret.
In my desire to see my country freed of the iron grip of a megalomaniac terrorizing our people, I have inadvertently contributed to the political stabilization of this regime, which has produced a despot whose writ extends over all of this land. For there is no doubt that none of this would have been possible if not for the triumphs of our brave troops out on the blood-drenched battlefields of the north and east and for the political support its allies provided this government to enable it to go to war.
Ironically then we are at this strange juncture of our history. The unceasing call from all sectors of Sri Lankan society for the last several decades has been for the abolishment of the executive presidency. Having lived through and experienced first hands the pitfalls and dangers of this system for more than 30 years, Sri Lankans have reached the unanimous conclusion that the executive presidency is not only a serious threat to the principles of democracy upon which this republic was founded, but also a plague on society at large. This country has watched politician after politician ascending this seat of power promising to abolish it.
But once they have savoured the power it affords they have clung to the presidency, in many cases morphing into mini-dictators with no further ambition than ruling supreme for as long as possible. And yet, while this has been the dominant political discourse in this country and his own election manifestos have promised the abolishment of the office of the executive presidency, President Mahinda Rajapaksa last week moved insidiously and with little warning towards transforming the very nature of governance in Sri Lanka, by introducing a constitutional amendment that virtually assures him the presidency for life. In so doing, the President has revealed his hand and exposed to the country at large his dynastic agenda and the means by which he intends to reaching these ends.
The desperate and revolting power grab, achieved through intimidation, extortion and outright bribery, has been more than anything else a tragic betrayal of the electorate who voted him into office, both in 2005 and 2010. On both occasions, President Rajapaksa campaigned on a platform to abolish the presidency, calling himself a mere custodian of Sri Lanka with a different vision for governance. Yet with the 18th Amendment he has successfully anointed himself King, once again proving that his word is worthless and that he is in no way honour bound to his voters unless it serves his own purposes.
Having supported this government while it was in the process of waging war against the LTTE, however brief that alliance might have been, I now believe that I have a bounden duty to rectify the mistake and ensure that it does not cost Sri Lanka her status as Asia’s oldest democracy. For that reason I assure all the people of this country who mourn the death of democracy and freedom by the passing of the 18th Amendment that I will devote the remainder of my life and political career towards overcoming this challenge.
To this end, I will leave no stone unturned to unite all forces that reject the despotic policies of this regime and take the battle to this government. I have no doubt that together, with truth and democracy on our side, we will not fail.