Maithripala Sirisena Current Affairs - 2019
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Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena used his emergency powers to issue an order to ban burqa, veil or covering of face in public places in any manner which prevents anyone from being identified.
The order which came into immediate effect explicitly defines that any garment or item which obstructs identification of an individual’s face is barred. It is placed to ensure national security, establish peaceful and cohesive society and not aimed at inconvenience to any community people.
Reason: The decision was taken in aftermath of Easter Sunday blasts which took place across eight locations, including three prominent churches and three hotels in island nation, in which more than 250 people were killed.
In a bid to help stabilize security situation, some Muslim organisations came forward and suggested a ban on burqa. Even local Muslim clerics urged their women not to cover their faces in escalating fears of backlash after the attacks. Most Sri Lankan Muslims practice liberal form of religion, with only very small percentage of women wearing niqab (a full face veil).
Religious Demography in Sri Lanka: With only 21 million population Sri Lanka is a multi-religious nation with mix ethnicities, and is dominated by Sinhalese Buddhist majority. As per 2012 census 70.1% of population is Buddhists, 12.6% Hindus, 9.7% Muslims and 7.6% Christians. With most Sinhalese being Buddhist, most Tamils are Hindu and Moors and Malays are mostly Muslim.
Newly appointed Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa ended his five-decade-long association with Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and joined newly-formed Sri Lanka People’s Party (SLPP). SLFP was founded by his father Don Alwin Rajapaksa in 1951. Rajapaksa’s joining SLPP signals that he will contest snap polls, under his own party banner and not that of President Maithripala Sirisena’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP). SLPP was formed in 2017 by Rajapaksa’s supporters as platform for his re-entry into politics. In February 2018 local council elections SLPP won two-third of total 340 seats.
Sri Lankan Political and Constitutional Crisis
In January 2015 Presidential election, then President Mahinda Rajapaksa (was in office for decade from 2005) was unexpectedly defeated by his then deputy Sirisena with support from Ranil Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP). But, power-sharing arrangement between President Sirisena and PM Wickremesinghe in later times became increasingly uncertain on several policy matters, mainly on economy and security.
Further rift had developed between them over policy towards China and India, with Wickremesinghe favouring Indian investment as counter to Chinese inroads in Sri Lankan infrastructure projects and Sirisena’s intention to contest 2020 presidential election under Mr Wickremesinghe’s party.
In October 2018 Sirisena had abruptly removed Wickremesinghe and replaced with Rajapaksa, a pro-China strongman as new Prime Minister. This move had plunged Sri Lanka into political and constitutional crisis. Sirisena had suspended parliamentary proceedings and later dissolved it, after it became evident that there is not enough support in House to prove Rajapaksa’s premiership.