Print

House Democrats Urge Sri Lanka to Reopen Parliament and Commit to Democratic Process

HOUSE DEMOCRATS URGE SRI LANKA TO REOPEN PARLIAMENT AND COMMIT TO DEMOCRATIC PROCESS

WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; Rep. Dina Titus, Co-Chair of the Sri Lanka Caucus; and Rep. David Price, Ranking Member of the House Democracy Partnership today urged Sri Lanka to uphold its commitment to democratic governance and reopen the country’s Parliament.

In a letter to President Maithripala Sirisena, the members expressed deep concern that the suspension of Sri Lanka’s Parliament circumvents the country’s constitution and democratic process.

“Unfortunately, we fear that recent actions, if not corrected, will threaten your country’s democratic development and derail the progress made in recent years. It has caused a political crisis…and could have an impact on the MCC program, U.S. foreign assistance, and other U.S. engagement and programs,” the members wrote.

Full text of the letter can be found below and here:

 

Dear President Sirisena,

We are gravely concerned about the decision to suspend your country’s Parliament and replace the Prime Minister through an extra constitutional mechanism.  We urge you to call for the immediate reopening of the Parliament and to diffuse this crisis through a democratic process.  

Your election in 2015 brought new hope for democratic reform, accountability, and reconciliation in Sri Lanka.  Actions from your government to initiate a reconciliation process, to amend your Constitution, and to support the rule of law signaled a new commitment to democratic governance in Sri Lanka.

In response to these efforts, the United States has undertaken several initiatives to invest in the relationship, including welcoming Sri Lanka’s Parliament into the House Democracy Partnership, considering Sri Lanka for a Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact, and transferring a U.S. Coast Guard high endurance cutter, formerly the USCGC Sherman, to the Sri Lankan Navy.

Unfortunately, we fear that recent actions, if not corrected, will threaten your country’s democratic development and derail the progress made in recent years. It has caused a political crisis which Speaker Karu Jayasuriya has warned could result in a “bloodbath,” and could have an impact on the MCC program, U.S. foreign assistance, and other U.S. engagement and programs. 

The U.S.-Sri Lanka partnership is built on shared goals of good governance and a commitment to democratic values.  As such, we urge you to signal your commitment to these values and rule of law by allowing Parliament to perform its constitutional duties without interference.