Interim Report debate tomorrow | Sunday Observer

Interim Report debate tomorrow

The three-day debate on the Interim Report of the Steering Committee of the Constitutional Assembly due to commence tomorrow will not reach any final decision but will only discuss the respective political party’s position Science, Technology and Research Minister Susil Premajayantha told the Sunday Observer.

“This debate will more or less be an Adjournment debate and there will also not be a vote,” the Minister said.

The SLFP has appointed a committee to go through all eight Interim reports and make recommendations on each and every key area.

“At present, we are aware of the position of the respective parties regarding the Interim report, the Minister told the Sunday Observer yesterday.

He said that the content of the Interim Report will be debated upon and if anybody wishes, they are free to make comments on the annexures and Interim Report.

“At this stage, it is better to further discuss these Interim Reports and party positions and take a decision on whether we are going to introduce a new Constitution or restrict ourselves to amendments to the Constitution,” he said.

The Minister said after the three-day debate is over, the Steering Committee will have to decide on the next course of action, whether to discuss it further with the relevant parties, the Maha Sangha and civil society.

Minister Premajayantha said at present there are two positions, one needs a new Constitution while the other desires certain amendments to the Constitution. Therefore, the Steering Committee has to decide on it and proceed with.

The SLFP has clearly stated its position in the annexures to the Interim Report. The SLFP is not agreeable to change Articles one to nine of the Constitution. Basically, we are not agreeable to completely abolish the Executive Presidency.

The Minister said if the new Constitution is to be passed at this stage, it will be very difficult to get a two-thirds majority.

“My opinion is, if the Executive Presidency is to be abolished, it needs a referendum. If the President’s executive powers are to be curtailed further, it is also needs a referendum. However, there is no need for a referendum to strengthen the devolution or change the electoral system,” he said.

The Joint Opposition (JO) Leader Dinesh Gunawardena told the Sunday Observer that the JO would participate in the debate and air their views. The JO has rejected the Interim Report and it has categorically stated that in the JO memorandum. During the debate, the JO will explain its position that has already been conveyed to Parliament through the memorandum rejecting the Government report.

He said at present, the UNP, SLFP, JHU, TNA and SLMC have different opinions on the Interim Report. “We should ask the Government as to why they are divided and having three or four opinions on this matter. Therefore, the Government itself shows that their proposals are in disarray,” he said.