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    Legal background for a President’s removal

    Some are questioning whether the vacancy of the executive presidency in Sri Lanka can be achieved by popular opposition.

    Lawyers point out that the Constitution has constitutionally accepted the sovereignty of the people as the highest law of the land.

    Accordingly, no matter who acts in any way, the vacancy of the office of President should take place only under the provisions of the Constitution.

    Accordingly, according to the latest amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka, the 20th Amendment to the Constitution, there are several instances where the office of the President becomes vacant.

    That is, when the President dies, when the President resigns with a letter signed by the Speaker, when the President ceases to be a citizen of Sri Lanka, when the person elected by the President fails to begin his term of office within one month, when the President was removed from the presidency, and if the Supreme Court challenged the futility of electing the president.

    If the office of the President becomes vacant before the expiration of the term of office of the President, then one Member of Parliament is eligible to be elected to the office of President. He is said to be the successor president. This President, who is elected by Parliament, can hold office only for the remaining term of office.

    According to Article 40 (1) b of the Constitution, the election of the President shall take place as soon as possible after the date of the vacancy. It is not possible to wait a month for that. Also, the president must be legally elected by secret ballot. However, after the vacancy, the Prime Minister will be responsible for the presidency during the interim period before the successor President is sworn in.

    He should appoint another Minister in the Cabinet to act as the Prime Minister.

    According to the 20 of the Constitution, this responsibility is not vested on the Prime Minister who has held office twice, where Article 40 provides that the Speaker shall exercise the office, powers, and functions until the successor is sworn in by the President.

    If an impeachment motion is brought against the President, it will take some time. It consists of a lengthy process of proposing, passing a resolution, signing not less than two-thirds of the members of Parliament, notifying, hearing the case in the Supreme Court, and returning to Parliament. Such an impeachment motion was brought against President R. Premadasa during his time but it took a long time.

    Accordingly, the presidency can be vacated only if the President resigns at will (Article 38 (1) a) or through a no-confidence motion in Parliament (Article 40 (1)).

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