Sri Lankan Prime Minister’s dream on hold

Apr 10, 2015 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s new constitutional changes will not affect any article that requires a referendum, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe stressed.

Wickremesinghe who was keen on reducing the autocratic powers of the executive presidency assured Parliament Thursday that they are only changing articles that need a two third of the Parliament majority.

“At the Committee Stage, we will remove amendments that require a referendum and limit this only to those that requires a two third.” Wickremesinghe said.

The statement came after Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa revealed the Supreme Court determination before Parliament.

The determination has clearly stated certain articles of the proposed constitutional amendment should be passed through a referendum.

42. (3) The Prime Minister shall be the head of the Cabinet of Ministers

This article of the proposed amendment is one of the most important articles that need a referendum.

This was also the center of criticism and was pointed out by government ally Jathika Hela Urumaya saying the article severely affects the powers vested with the President.

Currently the President is the head of the cabinet.

Apart from that, certain articles that reduced the autocratic powers of the President will not be included in the new constitution.

However the Supreme Court has further stated that the proposed constitutional amendment is consistent with the 82. (1) of the constitution.

Article 82. (1) of the constitution is reproduced below.

Amendment or repeal of the Constitution must be express.

82. (1) No Bill for the amendment of any provision of the Constitution shall be placed on the Order Paper of Parliament, unless the provision to be repealed, altered or added, and consequential amendments, if any, are expressly specified in the Bill and is described in the long title thereof as being an Act for the amendment of the Constitution.

The Supreme Court has added that the proposed amendments apart from those leads to a referendum; need a two thirds majority in the parliament to pass.

Articles of the proposed amendment that requires a referendum as determined by the Supreme Court:

42. (3), 43. (1), 43. (3), 44. (2), 44. (3) and section 26. (5) (c)