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Sri Lanka to Change Constitution Increase Presidential Powers

Published Jan 08, 2020
Updated Feb 25, 2020

Sri Lanka’s new President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa open his first parliamentary session in a simple yet dignified ceremony says Colombo Page. 

The President presented his manifesto in Parliament, “The Vision of Prosperity” instead of the state address.

Presenting the policy manifesto, the President said the country’s independence would not be compromised and in order to safeguard the security, sovereignty, stability and integrity of the country, it is essential that changes be made to the existing constitution. “According to our policies, national security has been given priority.

Accordingly, suitable places have been given to the competent officials. Intelligence units have been strengthened to do this.

We have established a close link between the armed forces and the police. This should be made a country free of underworld operatives, drug traffickers and rapists.” The President further stated that Parliament should be made an exemplary venue to identify the issues of the masses and for discussion of national policy.

He also indicated that the Constitution will be amended a remark seen by many to prepare grounds for the increase of Presidential powers.

19th Amendment to Sri Lanka’s constitution passed in aftermath of it’s civil war was intentionally designed to constrain presidential powers in response to historic excesses/abuses and facilitate peace and trust. 

As per Daily Asian Age Sri Lanka has a proportional representative electoral system where parties with a smaller support base could also return lawmakers with a minimum vote percentage. Minority politicians say the system had given them reasonable representation and help stem any anti-minority move in Parliament, which has a permanent majority of Sinhala Buddhist lawmakers.

Sinhala nationalists say minority politicians hold the governments to ransom to promote their racial agendas, undermining the status of the Sinhalese.

Sri Lanka’s ethnic polarization led to a 26-year civil war between the government and Tamil rebels in which at least 100,000 people were killed, according to conservative United Nations’ estimates.

Rajapaksa was a military officer during the war, which ended with the Tamils’ defeat in 2009.Rajapaksa said in his speech that the constitution has many “ambiguities and confusions” and changes are needed to rectify them.