Constitutional reforms must strengthen democracy: Former Speaker

Aug 21, 2020 (LBO) – Former Speaker Karu Jayasuriya emphasizes that the government needs to protect and enhance the essence of democracy embedded in the 19th Amendment.

Releasing a statement, Jayasuriya stated that the 19th Amendment to the Constitution embodies the democratic aspirations of the people at the time of its adoption.

According to Jayasuriya, the only progressive reform before the 19th Amendment was the 17th Amendment to the Constitution that was passed in 2001.

“The 17th amendment was born as a result of the public outcry during the famous Wayamba Elections where several malpractices, killings, arson and harassment took place,” Jayasuriya said.

“In the spirit of the 19th Amendment, it is welcoming to note that the President appointed 26 Ministers to the Cabinet, thereby following the 30-member limit introduced under 19A.”

The Right to Information act has been integrated into the 19A, by way of recognizing Right to Information as a fundamental right. This is the only improvement to the fundamental rights introduced under the 1978 constitution.

“These reforms have been enacted after wide consultation and negotiation within the Parliament and the civil society. In fact, the majority of the approving votes came from the UPFA members, led by President Maithripala Sirisena in 2015. Besides, even the present Parliament consists of a majority of members who have voted for the 19th Amendment,” he said.

“In this situation, if the government abolishes the 19th Amendment, and a new Constitution is passed, that must be done after wide consultation with all stakeholders, including all political parties, citizens’ organizations, and eminent individuals and general public,”

“As a responsible and concerned citizen, I wish good luck to the new government and the proposed constitution-making process, with the sincere hope that it will strengthen Sri Lanka’s democracy and provide an inclusive platform for the country to achieve prosperity for all.”

Related: Our first task will be to remove 19th Amendment: President

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