Rajapaksa moves to appoint Sri Lanka top judge successor



Colombo: Former Sri Lankan Attorney General Mohan Peiris has emerged as the front runner to succeed sacked Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has initiated the process to name a successor to impeached chief justice Bandaranayake who was sacked Sunday, presidential officials said on Monday.

They said that a nominee was intimated to the parliamentary council which would meet tomorrow to ratify the appointment.

It is widely believed that former Attorney General Mohan Peiris would be the next chief justice and would be installed in office tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Colombo is coming under international pressure over the sacking of Bandaranayake, 54, the country's first woman chief justice.

The Commonwealth and the Canadian government joined in criticism following concerns that came from the US and Britain.

In the second Commonwealth release within a few days, Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma said, "I will also consider further commonwealth initiatives and responses as are envisaged in situations that could be perceived to constitute violations of core commonwealth values and principles."

Sharma is to visit Colombo next month.

The Commonwealth in its earlier statement had urged Sri Lanka to act with restraint on the sacking of Bandaranayake.

Since then, the Chief Justice came to be sacked by President Rajapaksa following last week's parliamentary vote on her removal.

Sri Lanka is to host the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in November this year which makes Sharma's statement crucially important.

Canada, a prominent Commonwealth nation said it was deeply concerned by the impeachment and the human rights situation in Sri Lanka.

The sacking came in defiance of a Supreme Court ruling which said the process was illegal.

President Rajapaksa had yesterday sacked Bandaranayake, by ratifying her controversial impeachment by Parliament on corruption charges despite protests at home and global calls for restraint, pushing the nation into the brink of a major Constitutional stand-off.

The parliamentary committee last month had ruled that Bandaranayake was guilty of three of the 14 charges in the impeachment proceedings moved against her by the ruling UPFA coalition legislators.

The three charges were of financial impropriety based on non-declaration of assets and conflict of interest in a case involving a failed investment company.

The dispute between Bandaranayake and the government flared up late last year as the Supreme Court ruled independently on some of the key decisions of the Rajapaksa administration which has tightened its grip on power after crushing the LTTE in 2009.

PTI