Sri Lanka’s 19th amendment; a mere conspiracy by PM Ranil: Min. Champika Ranawaka

Mar 26, 2015 (LBO) – Government ally Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) has threatened to defeat the 19th amendment to the constitution presented to Parliament by Prime Minsiter Ranil Wickremesinghe on Tuesday.

Speaking at a press briefing General Secretary of JHU, Minister Champika Ranawaka said they supported President Sirisena only based on his election manifesto.
“There is nothing in this document to abolish the executive presidency. This document only says that a new presidential system will be brought instead of present arbitrary executive presidency.” Ranawaka said.

Even though it is acceptable as per the Sinhala manifesto, the English manifesto starts the above point in this way; ‘Abolishing the Executive Presidential System with Unlimited Powers’.

The English manifesto puts a heading to ‘abolish’ the executive presidency while trying to ‘change’ it inside a paragraph.

It seems tricky to have one thing in Sinhala and another thing in English since the parties affiliated with President Sirisena will have their own interpretations about the manifesto which ultimately lead to various issues.

Meanwhile Prime Minsiter Ranil Wickremesinghe has obtained the cabinet approval on Monday to remove the powers vested with the President over the government.

As per the new amendment the President will only be the head of state, executive and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.

The ‘Head of the government’ is not mentioned in the constitution, converting Prime Minister to be the ‘Head of the government’.

The Prime Minister has also been appointed as the head of the cabinet.

The President may on the advice of Prime Minister, appoint cabinet and non cabinet ministers.

“We don’t agree with this. They have violated what we agreed upon at the last party leaders meeting. We agreed to keep ‘Head of the government’ with the President,”

“This is a problem with the sovereignty of the people, if people are the ones appointing President then how can Parliament abolish his powers without the approval of people,”

“Who has given them that mandate.” Ranawaka questioned.

However the amendment initially proposed by Pivithuru Hetak National Council which operates under JHU chairman Venerable Athuraliye Rathana Thero demanded something else.

It primarily proposed the current parliament to ‘abolish’ the prevailing Executive Presidency and to establish a Constitutional alliance of the President and the Prime Minister.

According to it the President shall be the head of state and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.

That proposal also lacks the head of government element in addition to the head of the executive element.

The 19th amendment to the constitution is yet to be debated in Parliament.