[January 19, 2004
The Presidentís Office on Friday, January 16 issued a
press release clarifying the events that lead to the Presidentís
swearing-in ceremony conducted in December 1999.
then Prime Minister Chandrika Kumaratunga was elected Executive President at
an election held on 9th November 1994; she was sworn in three days later on
12th November 1994. She was re-elected to the Presidency on 21st December
1999. The second election was held before the completion of her first six
year term. In fact President Kumaratunga was elected to serve two six year
Three days before her re-election there was an attempt on her life, where
she miraculously escaped death but lost the use of one eye. Immediately
after the assassination attempt, malicious politically motivated rumours
were spread that she would not be able carry out her duties as President due
to the severity of the injuries suffered in the bomb blast on the night of
18th December 1999.
Emotions were running high in the country in the aftermath of the attack on
the President. Both anti Tamil and anti UNP riots were imminent. The
volatile situation that prevailed needed to be quelled. It was believed then
that it was prudent to have a swearing in ceremony promptly after the
election result was announced to prevent anarchy and assure the people that
all was well and that the Presidentís injuries were not life threatening.
Respected legal opinions have been expressed supporting the validity of the
second swearing-in, in the ground that a swearing-in was legally necessary
only after the completion of the first six year term. If the decision is
deemed to be unconstitutional the only body with the authority to do so is
the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka.
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Date: January 19, 2004 -9.30