MonitorsPublished on Dec 12, 2009
Twenty-three candidates, including current President Mahinda Rajapaksa and former army general Sanath Fonseka, filed their nomination papers for the presidential elections to be held on January 26, 2010.
South Asia Weekly 102
Sri Lanka
< class="heading12boldGeorgia" >Rajapaksa, Fonseka file nomination papers

Twenty-three candidates, including current President Mahinda Rajapaksa and former army general Sanath Fonseka, filed their nomination papers for the presidential elections to be held on January 26, 2010. The two main contenders for the presidential post are the current incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa and LTTE’s nemesis and former army general Sarath Fonseka. There are also Tamil and Muslim presidential hopefuls who have filed their nomination papers. Both Rajapaksa and Fonseka are conducting a no-holds barred campaigning with both making allegations against the other. Rajapaksa has also put the efforts at finding a political solution to the ethnic conflict on the backburner, assuring the international community of its revival after the presidential elections. But measures like resettlement of the IDPs and demining of the affected areas are going on without any interruption.  

< class="heading12boldGeorgia" >Victory Day celebrated in Bangladesh, Kolkata

Bangladesh celebrated its 38th Victory Day on December 16. On December 16, 1971, Bangladesh, with help from India, completed a victory over the Pakistani forces that ended a nine-month long war for independence. To commemorate the Victory Day prayer meetings, social and cultural programmes were organised. People came out in large numbers to pay their homage to the martyrs. At various functions the demand for the trial of the 1971 war criminals was raised. The people of Bangladesh have been demanding a trial of the 1971 war criminals for several years now. Meanwhile, a Bangladeshi delegation comprising 14 freedom fighters and three serving officers of the armed forces participated at the Vijay Divas celebrations at Kolkata.  Vijay Divas is celebrated by the Indian Army to mark the 1971 victory. Freedom fighters from Bangladesh have been invited every year to participate in the celebrations.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia" >Bill proposes parliamentary approval of foreign loans
A bill requiring parliamentary approval before the government secures foreign loans was debated in the parliament this week. It was introduced by the opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) which claims that the bill will help secure economic independence for the Maldivians. DRP got another supporter in Gasim Ibrahim, former finance minister and a sole representative of the Republican Party in the Majlis who argued that an immediate amendment in the current financial regulations is needed to curb the unrestricting powers of the executive to borrow from external sources. He quoted article 97 of the present constitution which states that the executive shall not obtain or receive any money or property by loan or otherwise, except pursuant to a law enacted by a people’s Majlis. But there are many others in the Parliament who are opposing the bill on the ground that MPs should not interfere in policy issues and their implementation as it goes against the basic tenets of the presidential system of governance. Moreover, this group claims that the MPs are not financial experts who can decide complicated fiscal and monetary measures in the best interests of the nation. 

< class="heading12boldGeorgia" >Supreme Court squashes NRO; Zardari’s future looks bleak
On Wednesday (December 16), a 17-member bench of the Supreme Court declared the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) invalid. The declaration has caused a political sandstorm that refuses to settle down and is threatening to uproot President Asif Ali Zardari from power. The bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, announced that all cases that were closed by virtue of the amnesty bill now stand revived. This includes cases closed during the four-month period between October 2007 and February 2008 when the Ordinance was officially in place as well as cases closed thereafter. Two hundred and forty eight important government functionaries, including ministers and high ranking government officials like Interior Minister Rehman Malik were placed on the Exit Control List, while Karachi and Lahore high courts initiated legal proceedings. With petitions challenging the constitutional immunity enjoyed by the President and the National Accountability Bureau directing Swiss courts to reopen cases pending against Zardari, the President’s future looks bleaker than ever before.     

< class="heading12boldGeorgia" >Contributors

Anjali Sharma - Sri Lanka, Maldives
Joyeeta Bhattacharjee - Bangladesh
Kaustav Dhar Chakraborti - Pakistan
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