"I challenge Mahinda Rajapaksa to win the confidence of the people not by manipulating the facts, but by coming before them with a plan to heal the wounds that he has inflicted on our democracy and economy", he said in a statement yesterday.
Now is not the time to deny his wrongdoing and blame others for his woes and those of the country. If Mahinda Rajapaksa ever wishes to regain the trust of Sri Lankans and to be entrusted with safeguarding the very Constitution that he trampled over in his thirst for power, his journey must begin by confessing his sins to the country, seeking their penance and going before them in a lawful, free and fair election, Premadasa noted.
Recounting the sequence of political events, the statement said: "On 26 October 2018, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa assured President Maithripala Sirisena that he commanded the confidence of Parliament and assumed the post of Prime Minister. Incumbent Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe made clear that he still commanded the confidence of Parliament, but Mahinda Rajapaksa refused to step down.
"On 14 November 2018, the Parliament of Sri Lanka passed a vote of no-confidence on the purported government of Hon. Mahinda Rajapaksa. Article 48 (2) of the Constitution is clear that following a vote of no-confidence, the Prime Minister ceases to hold office and the Cabinet is dissolved. He was no longer Prime Minister, but Mahinda Rajapaksa refused to step down.
"Two days later, when Parliament sat to re-affirm its lack of confidence in Mr. Rajapaksa and his government, the entire country watched as the minority of Members of Parliament who supported him rose to his defence, not with their votes but with fists, fury and chilli powder. It was only thanks to the valour of Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, the police and parliamentary staff that democracy did prevail, and the no-confidence vote was re-affirmed.
"He could not gain the confidence of the House even after his supporters resorted to unprecedented violence, but Mahinda Rajapaksa refused to step down.
"Parliament, in exercising the people’s legislative sovereignty, continued to pass resolution after resolution to prevent the operation of an illegal government. He could no longer spend money on salaries, vehicles, and helicopters for himself or his personal staff, but Mahinda Rajapaksa refused to step down.
"On 3 December 2018, the Court of Appeal of the Republic of Sri Lanka made world history with an interim order that restrained former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his allies from purporting to act as Prime Minister and as ministers and deputy ministers. Never in the eight-hundred-year history of parliamentary democracy has a judiciary had to forcibly claw away the premiership from a man who did not command the confidence of Parliament, but Mahinda Rajapaksa refused to step down.
"On Wednesday, 12 December 2018, Parliament voted by a majority of 117 to zero that it has confidence in Ranil Wickremesinghe to serve as the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka. Although, he was now clearly an impostor, Mahinda Rajapaksa still refused to step down.
"Throughout this entire period, Mahinda Rajapaksa threw the reputation and stability of Sri Lanka’s prized parliamentary democracy into chaos and put his own interests and the needs of his family before the people of this country. He framed himself as a defender of the franchise of the people, insisting that a general election take place while he held the machinery of the state in his grasp.
"As the Chief Justice and five other Justices ruled last week: "a General Election held consequent to a dissolution of Parliament which has been done contrary to the provisions of the Constitution will not be a true exercise of the franchise of the people".
(Except for the headline, this story, originally published by island.lk has not been edited by SLM staff)