Fonseka handing his manifesto to Ranil. Photo from Perambara
There’s one part of Sarath Fonseka’s Manifesto (Google Doc/PDF) that really got my attention. He’s proposed some really bold steps to restore democracy which fundamentally amount to following the law. He’s said that he’ll appoint the Constitutional Council and all the Independent Commissions that flow from it. I think this will stem a lot of the institutional rot that pervades the country, and he could do it on day one. Sounds good.
To quote from my forthcoming Sunday Leader column (unless they cut it for space):
The shamelessness of this election campaign is really a symptom of a deeper problem. We have no oversight because there is no Elections Commission. We have no Elections Commission because there is no Constitutional Council to appoint it. We have no Constitutional Council because the President hasn’t followed the Constitution and set one up.
This rot pervades all our institutions and makes life unpredictable and hard. That’s why I was pumped to read that Fonseka’s first act will be to reactivate the 17th amendment, appoint the Constitutional Council and set up Independent Commissions. He will also dissolve the jumbo cabinet, dissolve Parliament and amend the Emergency Regulations. Then he’ll try to amend the Constitution to abolish the Executive Presidency. It’s a clean sweep, and I think it’s about time.
I’m amazed at how pumped I was to read about just following the law. I think Mahinda’s campaign is symptomatic of how he runs the country. Trishaw Democracy if you will. Fuck everything, just win. That’s fine for limited tasks, but it’s not really replicable for sustained growth. He can drop a port or a power plant somewhere, but if you don’t devolve power that development doesn’t cascade. It doesn’t create jobs or opportunities. For that you need stable institutions and laws. With the base institution of security I guess we can grow, but I think we can grow more if we have law and order beyond that.
This is why I’m becoming more and more impressed with Fonseka. He says
The challenge facing us is to restore democracy by abolishing the Executive Presidency that is paving the way for a dictatorial regime. My first act upon assuming office will be to reactiviate the 17th Amendment to the Constitution by appointing the Constitutional Council for the re-establishment of the Independent Commissions.
I will then dismantle the jumbo cabinet and invite all parties presently representing Parliament to nominate members to my caretaker cabinet. I will then dissolve Parliament. Urgent cabinet papers will then be brought forward to amend Emergency regulations. Within a month cabinet papers will be presented for the approval of a Constitution Amendment Bill to abolish the Executive Presidency, and Abolition of the Press Council Bill and a Freedom of Information Bill.
I will also take necessary steps to ensure that the most free-and-fair elections in Sri Lanka will be held under my caretaker cabinet. I expect the new Bills to be presented to the new Parliament within one month.
After abolishing the Executive Presidency I will continue to work as President with the support of the Parliament for the nation and the people.
I don’t quite get the last line, is that like a non-executive Presidency? Is that like the Chief Of Defence Staff, and will he run for UN Secretary General if he doesn’t like it? Besides that it sounds great. I took my damn time but I really didn’t know the man at all. I’ve decided and I’m voting for Fonseka.