A three-pronged approach has been discussed to deal with the provincial governors who have ignored a call to step-down, said Presidential Secretariat sources.
Tasking a committee headed by a retired judge with inquiring into the conduct of these governors or appointing replacements are two of these options.
Or else, the governors will be treated not as the representatives of the president any longer and their financial allocations will be curtailed.
In the event they agree to resign, the president is likely to appoint new governors before his tour of Japan.
Four governors to legally challenge president
The four governors who refused to tender their resignations have decided to legally challenge the president.
One of them had strongly ruled out quitting when notified by an additional secretary at the Presidential Secretariat.
By last Friday, the government had decided to ask them in writing to resign.
Irrespective of the governor’s decision, as per his executive powers as the appointing authority, the president will appoint new governors in the coming week, said the sources. However, those who refuse to resign are of the view that they could not be removed outside the constitutional provisions.
Clause 154(b) of the constitution says even as an appointee by the president, a governor could be removed only by a resolution adopted by the respective provincial council on proven charges of corruption, misconduct, abuse of powers or bribery.
They have obtained the opinion in this regard from former chief justice Sarath N. Silva and other legal experts.
For their part, the Presidential Secretariat has consulted the attorney general and other experts, who are of the opinion that even the governors cannot act as per their discretion and should abide by the presidential orders as per clause 154f(2) of the constitution.
As a precedent, the government has pointed to Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s appointment of Jeevan Thiagaraja when P.S.M. Charles refused to resign as the north’s governor.
Presidential Secretariat sources said the decision will not be reversed for any reason to remove Wasantha Karannnagoda, Anuradha Yahampath, Tikiri Kobbekaduwa and Jeevan Thiagaraja from their governor positions.
According to reliable sources, the new appointees will be Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena for northwest, Palitha Range Bandara or Navin Dissanayake for Sabaragamuwa, Senthil Thondaman for east and P.S.M. Charles for north.