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Government Gazette

Removal on restrictions on a President’s term in Office:

People’s mandate, prerogative for Presidency



Susil Premajayantha

Maithripala Sirisena

Nimal Siripala de Silva

P. Dayaratne

Earl Gunasekera

Manusha Nanayakkara

Luxman Seneviratne

Tissa Karalliyadde

Rauf Hakeem

Ranjith Maddumabandara

Abdul Cader

The constitutional amendments signal a new beginning for the government, Health Minister, SLFP General Secretary Maithripala Sirisena said.

The constitutional amendments would not witness the end of government as alleged by the UNP. A golden era has dawned on the country under President Mahinda Rajapaksa who eliminated the scourge of LTTE terror from the country. This is the era of development under President Rajapaksa’s undisputed leadership. Sri Lanka will become the “Miracle of Asia” he said.

The removal of the restrictions on the number of terms a person could hold Executive Presidency is an enhancement of the franchise of the people as they would have a wider choice before them, the minister said.

Under the proposed amendment the President is made answerable to parliament and to the people, as well, he said.

Irrigation and Water Management Minister and SLFP Senior Vice President Nimal Siripala de Silva said that President Mahinda Rajapaksa deserved a third term as he gave political leadership to the military campaign that defeated LTTE terrorism. President Rajapaksa’s credentials to lead the country for a third term are not disputed, he said.

Minister de Silva said that all independent commissions appointed in keeping with the 17th amendment to the constitution would be retained with pivotal changes effected to make them operational. A 10 member constitutional council would make the way for a five member Parliamentary Council (PC) comprising the Premier, Speaker and Opposition leader and a nominee each by the premier and opposition leader.

Minister de Silva said that the political parties would have to make their recommendations to the seven independent commissions namely Public Service Commission, Election Commission, Police Commission, Human Rights Commission, Bribery Commission, Finance Commission and Delimitation Commission.

Petroleum Industries Minister and UPFA General Secretary Susil Premajayantha said that the objective of the constitutional amendments was to remove the impediments of the 1978 Constitution that hampered the government’s development program.

He said that the two third majority needed for the new amendment is comfortably within the UPFA could easily muster the required 2/3 with the support extended by the eight member SLMC parliamentary group.

Premajayantha said that all constituent parties of the SLFP led UPFA had discussed the proposed constitutional reforms themselves at length before reaching consensus. The LSSP and the CP representatives were present at the meetings and no one objected to the reforms.

The close relationship between the President and the government and the opposition members are very important said Child Development and Women Affairs Minister Tissa Karalliyadde.

The Minister said the President’s decision to visit the parliament in every three months would help him acquaint himself with the government and the opposition parliamentarians and to listen to them closely.

He said he believed it is better if the President makes regular visits to parliament. The image of the parliament itself would also improve, he said.

State Resources and Enterprise Minister P. Dayaratna said that the removal of the ceiling on the term of presidency is a critical step towards democracy what harm in the incumbent president contesting more than twice when the Prime Minister can do so, the minister asked.

It is for the voters to decide whether they should elect him or not. He is not trying stay in power by force. People have the freedom to use their franchise as they wish in this regard, he said.

Monaragala District UNP, MP Ranjith Maddumabandara said the UNP shall also impose a ceiling on the opposition leadership, if it is against the removing of the ceiling on the presidency.

In other countries the opposition leaders resign in the face of defeats suffered at the hands of the ruling party. In Sri Lanka the opposition leader continues his portfolio even after losing many a electoral battle in the past. We hope to bring a resolution against this, he said.

Badulla Distract UNP MP Luxman Seneviratna said that there is no necessity to go against the 18th amendment when the opposition leader himself continues in office despite repeated defeats suffered by his party.

Although we have not yet decided on the voting I personally believe it is not fare to go against the 18th amendment. Even President J.R. Jayewardene wanted to remove the ceiling on the terms of President.

Former UNP MPS Merril Kariyawasam and Lionel Jayatileka moved a resolution in the UNP working committee regarding it. Later both of them were assassinated during the 1989 terror, Seneviratne said.

Kandy District UNP, MP Abdul Cader said it is time for all to shed petty political differences and work for the development of the country. At this crucial moment the UNP should join hands with the President and the government to serve the country, if not the UNP would further break in to pieces. The majority of UNP parliamentarians who are in favour of the proposed Constitutional amendments should vote for it he said.

Polonnaruwa District UNP MP Earl Gunasekera said that all decisions taken by UNP in the recent past were wrong. I also said at the UNP Executive Committee meeting that the decision taken by UNP Working Committee regarding 18th Amendment was also wrong.

He said that the UNP could benefit by the 18th Amendment as according to political science the tendency was for the decline in popularity of the ruling party over a period of time. He added that the UNP had nothing to worry over the matter as the ultimate decision in this regard invested with the public.

Galle District UNP MP Manusha Nanayakkara said that the President eradicated the LTTE terror and restored normalcy in the country. Now he leads the national development drive. Therefore it is time for all to support the President and strengthen his hands. Politician interested in a better tomorrow for the country. I have decided to support the 18th Amendment. I also do not want to work under defeated leader and an eroding party, he said.

SLMC leader Rauf Hakeem said that the proposed constitutional amendments strengthen democracy and the people’s franchise. We felt that a pragmatics approach is a must of the current situation in the country, he said.

The SLMC National organiser Shafeek Rajabdeen said that they have been supporting the UNP for the last five years. But it now finds itself in a stalemate, he said.

“If we do not extend our support to President Rajapaksa there are at least ten UNPers willing to back him. We did the right thing in the interests of our people, he said.

 

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