Opinion: The PM should aggressively defend independence of the Constitutional Council

Ishara S. Kodikara | AFP | Getty Images Sri Lanka Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, center, speaks to supporters at the prime minister's official residence in Colombo on December 16, 2018, after he was reappointed as prime minister by Sri Lanka's president, the same man who fired him from the job nearly two months ago.

February 15, 2019 (LBO) – The past few days have seen pointed verbal attacks on the Sri Lanka’s Constitutional Council. First by Wijedasa Rajapakse, and second by Parliament’s Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa. The criticism by two high profile political leaders of the Constitutional Council comes at a juncture when the Council has shown itself to be critical in the backbone of Sri Lanka’s democracy.

In fact, some would argue that the independence of the Council is one of the leading achievements of Sri Lanka’s constitutional reform ushered in with great hope in 2015. The independence of the Constitutional Council serves as a key check on executive power. For the first time since its creation, this check on executive power has proven steadfast.

It was institutions like the Constitutional Council, the Judiciary, the Public Service, Security Forces and the Media which must be given much credit for the upholding of constitutional democracy during possibly its darkest moment in modern Sri Lankan history. These institutions were given teeth and independence through constitutional reform, in particular the 19th amendment.

Its time for the UNP to call a spade a spade. It must come out and aggressively condemn statements made against its greatest achievement, constitutional reform. Party leaders should come forward and let the public know of the government’s support for the Constitution and the Constitutional Council.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s finest hour in his 40-year political career was during the recent democratic crisis. Against all odds he stood firm in the defence of Sri Lanka’s Constitution and prevailed. He energised the public and rallied the faithful to defend his cause, even under the spectre of physical harm. He won the hearts and minds of the people.

If the Prime Minister wants to continue his good fortune and be elected President of the country, he can’t become complacent. He needs to continue to get out front and stand aggressively for what’s right.