Mixed reactions to CC appointments | Sunday Observer

Mixed reactions to CC appointments

There are concerns over the appointment of the three members to the Constitutional Council, despite the fact that they are highly qualified in their fields, National Coordinator of the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV), Manjula Gajanayake told the Sunday Observer last week.

“The Constitutional Council was introduced to help create a clean political society. Three members representing civil society are appointed to ensure that this happens,” he said.

The appointment of new civil society representatives to the Constitutional Council last week ignited mixed reactions from concerned parties.

Former diplomat Dr. Jayantha Dhanapala, Faculty of Law member at the University of Colombo, Prof. Naganathan Selvakkumaran and Attorney-at-Law Ahmad Javid Yusuf commenced their terms on Thursday, October 11.

The council consists of ten members, and the Prime Minister, the Speaker and the Opposition Leader operate as ex-officio members. The appointments comes after the terms of non-members of the Parliament - Dr. Ahangamage Tudor Ariyaratne, late Shibly Aziz, PC, and Dr. Radhika Coomaraswamy ended on September 22 on completion of three years of service.

He said they that the newly appointed members have not actively worked with civil society nor fought for the rights of the people and had failed to take proactive measures to change the political culture, while the role of the council is to monitor appointed officials and take action if something goes amiss.

“Since the new members have already taken up their duties, I hope to recommend to them to create a proper mechanism when officials are selected as Chairmen or members of any of the Commissions. There needs to be dialogue before making such appointments,” Gajanayake said, adding they should refrain from selecting the first person the President recommends. As a long-term measure, he plans to speak to the Secretary of Parliament to create a criterion to select the three members from civil society. Puravesi Balaya Co-convener Gamini Viyangoda said the three selected members are ideal for the roles they are tasked to perform.

“We can use their service to resolve a key issue - that is to ensure that appointments of crucial officials are not politicised,” he said.

Viyangoda, however, believes that the council should have seven representatives from civil society and three political members - the opposite of its current status.

The Constitutional Council was introduced through the 19th Amendment with the main objective of recommending members to head nine key Commissions.

They are the Election Commission, Public Service Commission, National Police Commission, Auditing Service Commission, Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption, Finance Commission, Delimitation Commission and the National Procurement Commission.

Thus the council limits the powers of the President to make appointments on his own accord.

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