We demand 225 Sri Lankan MPs & President present Affidavits to confirm they are not dual citizens

The inclusion of the clause to deny any Member of Parliament or the President to be a dual citizen looks rather silly if we have to trust in the MP to be honorable enough to declare so. If Article 92(b) and Clause 20(4) of the 19th amendment & Article 91 (1) (d) (xiii) of the Constitution says persons who are dual citizens are disqualified from being elected as MPs or the President, then it should mean that even after entering parliament they cannot obtain dual citizenship. Therefore, given that close to 4 years has lapsed since the implementation of the 19th amendment & only 1 MP who declared she was a dual citizen has lost her right to become a MP, it is only fair that the President should lead by example & present an affidavit to pronounce that he is not a dual citizen & he should order all 225 MPs to also produce affidavits to declare they are not dual citizens too.

Other than an affidavit what other ways can we know if a MP is a dual citizen

a) The Foreign Ministry can request selected countries to reconfirm with their records if any of the 225 MPs are dual citizens (a response from these countries is unlikely)
b) The Election Commission can also make similar demand (unlikely to get response either)
c) The MP personally admitting to being a dual citizen – this is hardly likely to happen

Therefore, to make this clause in the 19th amendment meaningful it is morally & ethically correct that all 225MPs produce affidavits to declare they are not dual citizens.

Before the August 2015 elections, given that the 19a was passed in April 2015 inserting the dual citizenship clause, the election commissioner should have asked every contestant to produce affidavits to the effect that they are not dual citizens at time of nominations & this should also apply to any person being nominated under the national list too.

It was only Geetha Kumarasinghe who when filing her nomination papers had been honest enough to declare she was a dual citizen. However, it questions the dishonesty of all others who were dual citizens at the time of nomination but were not honest enough to state so. If Geetha Kumarasinghe is disqualified by virtue of her honesty, it is totally unfair that the dishonest others are allowed to remain in Parliament while being dual citizens.

This is not democracy & all those democracy-first, voice of justice crusaders need to also demand affidavits of all 225MPs to confirm they are not dual citizens.

When the 19a dual citizenship was first brought the immediate response was that it was specifically being inserted to prevent targeted individuals from harboring any intention of contesting elections & entering politics. If constitutional amendments/clauses have been inserted with such shallow intentions in mind, it is natural that these maneuvers backfire via natural justice.

While it is commendable to have such a clause we must also be realistic. The person in question against whom the clause was said to have been inserted inspite of his dual citizenship did a magnanimous role in providing support to defeat the LTTE, coordinating the armed forces & redefining urban development post-LTTE defeat. Can that be said of all the other Sri Lankan citizens only who held that position before him?

This is no different to the noise that people make about qualifications in parliament – while certainly a basic educational qualification is required but that alone is not enough – a knowledge of the country’s history, geopolitics, political systems etc is also a must. We do not elect MPs to be talking rot, slandering one another, destroying public property or opening toilets 24×7. Yet, there are plenty of Doctorate holders, Professors, civil servants, lawyers inside parliament – how have their behavior been different from that of the uneducated lot who have entered? Do we see a difference? So where does the buck stop?

What good is lovely worded clauses if it doesn’t apply to all equally? Fair enough no one can contest if they are dual citizens but what if they become dual citizens after getting elected and don’t declare it? Therefore, not only an affidavit confirming the present MPs are not dual citizen is needed but an oath to the effect that they will not apply for dual citizenship while holding office as MP. Any MP that violates this the provision to file against them is available & this is the type of checks & balances we want in a democracy.

There is nothing for any MP to make a fuss about – we are only throwing what they all put up their hands and passed in April 2015. The only person who can object to any clause in the 19th amendment is Admiral Sarath Weerasekera who voted against it, all others by voting in favor of it are bound by committing to every clause in it, unless none of them knew what they were voting for.

Citizens must therefore make a public demand that the President & the Election Commission is bound to ask all 225MPs to produce affidavits confirming they are not dual citizens & the President can lead by example while also taking an oath that they would not apply to be dual citizens while serving the Nation.

Shenali D Waduge

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