Opposition Leader challenges PM to seek public mandate for proposals on new constitution

Opposition Leader challenges PM to seek public mandate for proposals on new constitution

Written by Staff Writer

11 Jan, 2019 | 8:57 pm

Colombo (News1st) – A debate took place in the constitution assembly today after PM Ranil Wickremesinghe presented a report prepared by the Panel of Experts on constitutional proposals.

The Premier addressing the assembly stated that it is up to the assembly to decide the future course of action and what needs to be done with the reports that were tabled. He emphasized that there are no proposals to divide the country or destroy a religion.

Responding to a question raised by Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa, PM Wickremesinghe revealed that the Steering committee appointed to draft a new constitution had received this report from a panel of experts which was appointed by the committee.

The Opposition leader noted that the members need a number of days to study the proposals that were tabled in the assembly today (Jan 11). While questioning the legitimacy of this report, the Opposition Leader also remarked that he has doubts as to whether all members of the Government support this move, he cited the lack of members present on the Government benches as his reasoning for this.

The PM went onto say that if the assembly agrees, they could move on to form a draft of the new constitution and present it before the assembly. He noted that a 2/3rd majority will also be needed for this draft proposal.

When objections were raised once again that the opposition did not have sufficient time to study the proposals made, the Premier stated that they could schedule a debate in one or two weeks. While stating this, he remarked that members of the Opposition were also present in the steering committee when the proposals were being discussed.

Rajapaksa noted that his members had objected to a number of proposals which had been presented. He called on the PM not to hoodwink the people or the Parliament.

MP Dinesh Gunawardene joining the debate noted that his team received a promise by the steering committee to include proposals to amend the electoral process, and stated that they had been duped.

It was then that the Opposition leader proposed this solution “.. Let the UNP present their proposals during the next election, we will bring our proposals for the constitution. Let us get the people’s mandate for this..”

The leader of the JVP, Anura Kumara Dissanayake addressing the assembly stated that individuals who spread false rumors regarding the constitution are present within the steering committee. The JVP leader echoed the PM’s sentiments and noted that the Steering committee is yet to submit a draft of the new constitution before the assembly.

Dissanayake explained that the steering committee has not been able to reach a final decision on issues such as the executive presidency and the devolution of power. While explaining the number of steps that need to be taken before a draft constitution is presented, the JVP leader accused the leader of the opposition of spreading false rumors regarding a federal solution.

MP Nimal Siripala de Silva joining the debated accused the UNP of using the process of forming a new constitution as a political game. He explained that they have reiterated their proposal that the executive presidency should remain in some shape or form.

Min. Patali Champika Ranawaka stated that they were able to remove all the arbitrary powers of the executive presidency through the 19th amendment and added that if they want to take further action regarding the presidency, they should go in for a referendum. He noted that if the executive is abolished with the current electoral system in place, the country will not have a stable administration.

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