Constitution should not be like a stone inscription: President Sirisena

Constitution should not be like a stone inscription: President Sirisena

Constitution should not be like a stone inscription: President Sirisena

Written by Tharushan Fernando

09 Jan, 2016 | 10:30 pm

An air of importance surrounded the proceeding as Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe tabled the motion in Parliament for the creation of a new constitution.

Leader of the House Lakshman Kiriella seconded the motion. The motion was compiled by a sub-ministerial committee headed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

RanilPresenting the motion, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said there is a need to create a new constitution based several factors, such as:
*Abolishing the Executive Presidency
*Removing the Preferential Votes system
*Assuring the people of a public represented election system
*Strengthening the democratic rights of all citizens
*Providing a constitutional solution to the National Issue.

Accordingly, a committee comprising parliamentarians will be formed to  prepare a draft of a constitution bill and it will be referred to as the ‘Constitutional Assembly’.

The Speaker of Parliament shall be the Chairman of the Constitutional Assembly with seven deputy chairmen of the Constitutional Assembly. The Constitutional Assembly will appoint several sub-committees, and a steering committee chaired by the Prime Minister will also be appointed. The other members of the committee would be the Leader of the Opposition, Leader of the House, the Minister of Justice, and not more than seventeen members of the Constitutional Assembly are to be appointed by the Constitutional Assembly.

The prime minister called upon the steering committee to present a resolution proposing a draft Constitution Bill for the consideration of the Constitutional Assembly.

Expert aid is to be sought for the creation of the draft Constitution and public opinion will be given priority. The proceedings of the Constitutional Assembly and its sub-committees shall be open to the public. The sub-committees shall submit their reports to the Steering Committee within ten weeks of the appointment of each such sub-committee. Upon the consideration of the reports of the sub-committees appointed, and the Public Representation Commission, the Steering Committee shall submit a report to the Constitutional Assembly.

The Constitutional Assembly shall thereafter debate the general merits and principles of the report and the draft Constitution, and may also debate proposed amendments, following which, the Steering Committee shall submit a final report and a resolution containing a draft Constitution for the consideration of the Constitutional Assembly.

If the Constitutional Assembly approves the resolution on the draft Constitution by a two-thirds majority, the report and the draft Constitution shall be submitted to the Cabinet of Ministers and the bill shall thereafter be published in the gazette.

The president can then refer the bill to every Provincial Council, and seek their views, after which the prime minister can present such bill to Parliament.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe noted that if not, less than two-thirds of the whole number of the Members of Parliament vote in favor of the said bill, and it shall be declared as duly passed by Parliament by a special majority. Thereafter, he said, the bill shall be submitted by the president, under the terms of Article 85(1) of the Constitution, to the people by referendum for their approval. If the bill is approved by the people at a referendum, the Constitution Bill shall become law after being certified by the president

The prime minister said he expects the support of all public representatives in Parliament and added that the constitution was discussed. He said the participation of all was proposed and if not this will not be possible and although. He said despite belief there are five parties for the working committee, that number is higher with, some coming from three opposition parties. If that happened, there will be around 500 members here and not 225, he said.



Following the prime minister’s statement, President Maithripala Sirisena made a special announcement on the process to prepare the new constitution, stating that the constitution of a country should not be like a stone inscription.



He went on to note that during the past one year, when operating within the limits of the executive presidency, some have raised a view of what is wrong with the executive presidency.

He said: It may be because of the manner in which I operated while another theory is that, the 26-year long conflict was won because of the executive presidency.

If one assumes that the executive presidency must prevail under such a notion, what we can assume is that, do they hope for a war in the future? 

What is needed is the introduction of reforms and changes aimed at preventing the island returning to war and while the people of the South are afraid of the term ‘federal,” the people of the North are afraid of the term “unitary.” However, the extremist elements on both sides attempt to take the wrong advantages through this and it was witnessed what happened at various locations in the past few days.

The Most Respectful Mahanayake asked that there is a view that the security forces are to be restructured under the advice of another country and questioned whether it would pose a threat to national security. So it must be made clear that a constitutional demon must not be created for the country and what must be done is the creation of a graceful constitution that would be like a child.

Certain groups have stated that Sri Lanka is trying to receive advice from foreign countries to draft a new constitution but no country has created any impact in this respect to Sri Lanka and the truth an reality must be accepted.

“I call on everyone concerned not to propagate rumors and create restlessness in the country,” the president concluded.

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