No reason to oppose 20A – Dr. Jayampathy | Sunday Observer

No reason to oppose 20A – Dr. Jayampathy

In spite of being favourable to the draft of 20th Amendment to the Constitution, presented by the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) last week, Member of Parliament and Constitutional expert Dr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne says the United Left Front (ULF) and the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) majority group which he represents is still supportive of formulating a new Constitution for the country.

“I believe it is still a possibility though the JVP says it is unlikely,” he said, adding that if the two main political parties can support the process it is a task that is still achievable.

Meanwhile, commenting on the draft presented by the JVP, Dr Wickramaratne said he has no reason to oppose it. “The proposed amendment has also taken into account the interim report of the steering committee,” he pointed out.

According to him, the JVP had taken up the suggestion made by the interim committee to not curtail the President’s powers over Provincial Councils. “This shows they have responded to the interim report,” he said.

While claiming the draft is a step in a positive direction, Dr Wickramaratne said the amendment seeks to achieve certain aims which were not possible through the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. “The wishes of the public which were expressed on January 8, 2015, did not translate into a Constitutional amendment in full, as the government did not have the needed simple majority at the time,” he said.

According to him, facing pressures from certain factions of the SLFP and other parties supportive of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa who was not keen on reforming the executive presidency, the 19th Amendment had to be diluted before it was gazetted and thereafter, as well.

“Because of the lack of a two-thirds majority we had to give in, in Parliament at the Committee Stage,” he recalled, adding that it caused great disappointment for the late Sobitha Thera who championed the abolishment of the Executive Presidency.

The draft presented last week by the JVP on the 20th Amendment to the Constitution seeks to abolish the position of an elected Executive President. According to the amendment, the President will be appointed by Parliament through a secret ballot and by obtaining a simple majority vote instead of an electoral process.

The President, during his tenure, will also not be able to be a member of a political party or hold any positions in one.

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