Constitutional amendments will have no bearing on current President – JVP | Sunday Observer

Constitutional amendments will have no bearing on current President – JVP

The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna which strongly backs the movement for constitutional change sought to allay fears about the reforms being an attempt to

oust President Maithripala Sirisena, saying even its 20th Amendment abolishing the executive presidency will only take effect once the incumbent’s term draws to an end.

“There will be no impact on the present President’s tenure at all,” JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake told Sunday Observer last week. In a bid to obfuscate and misinform, UPFA MP Dayasiri Jayasekera erroneously claimed that provisions contained in the draft proposals soon to be placed before the Steering Committee of the Constitutional Assembly were a veiled attempt to effect the ouster of President Sirisena through ‘consultations’ between the Prime Minister, the Speaker of Parliament and the Opposition Leader.

However, sources in the Steering Committee took pains to explain that the proposals referred to in documents before the Committee referred to a hypothetical non-executive president, since the new Constitution works on the premise of abolition of the executive presidency.

President Sirisena who was elected by 6.2 million voters in January, 2015, can never be removed from office except through an impeachment, a process made lengthy and deliberately rigorous and arduous by the drafters of the 1978 Constitution, under which he holds office.

In fact, Dissanayake said that under the 20th Amendment his party is proposing, President Sirisena would get an additional advantage, since he would be permitted to continue in office beyond January 9, 2020, until a new president is selected by Parliament after the general election due in August.

The 20th Amendment which the JVP has presented as a Private Member’s Bill seeks to completely abolish the Executive Presidency. This was also a key election promise of President Maithripala Sirisena during the 2015 Presidential Election. If the 20th Amendment is passed by Parliament, it would come into legal effect from January 8, 2020.

The JVP Leader meanwhile is not hopeful about plans to enact a new Constitution despite the process that has been underway at the Constitutional Assembly for the past two years.

“This Government needs a two thirds majority in Parliament and a referendum to enact a new Constitution. Therefore, these plans won’t bear fruit,” he explained.