Party leaders call for referendum | Sunday Observer

Party leaders call for referendum

All party leaders represented in parliament yesterday said that the draft for the new Constitution not only needs a two third majority in Parliament but also has to be passed by the people at a referendum if it is to be adopted as the new constitution of the country.

He said that the new constitution required the consent of two third majority of Parliament and endorse by the people in a referendum. A new constitution for the country should be introduced only with the consent of people, he said.

Chief Opposition Whip Anura Kumara Dissanayake said that of 19 amendments introduced to the present constitution, 17 were intended to consolidate power. The JVP also agrees with the need for a new constitution. There should be an election system that reflects the people’s wish. We are of the view that the Executive Presidency should be abolished.

UPFA Colombo District MP Dinesh Gunawardena said that the Joint Opposition submitted to the Steering Committee a document containing 14 principles for the new constitution. The JO would not agree for anything without those 14 principles. He demanded to know what would happen for the powers vested with the President on Provincial Councils if the Executive Presidency is abolished. The Constitutional Assembly is scheduled to meet again on December 10 at 9.30 am to table the six sub committee reports presented by the Prime Minister in Parliament.

The Party Leaders made these remarks when the Constitutional Assembly convened in the Parliament chamber yesterday. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in his capacity as the Chairman of the Steering Committee of the Constitutional Assembly presented the reports of six sub committees appointed to draft a new Constitution which have concluded their task in six main areas.

Presenting the reports, the Premier said that three alternatives had been proposed for the post of Executive Presidency. However, the best alternative would be selected from the opinion of Parliament and people. The principles of power devolution including Police and land powers to peripheries had also been discussed in the reports separately. Premier Wickremesinghe said that January 10, 11 and 12 have been allocated for a debate on the reports and if the need arises the time could be extended by couple more days with the agreement of Party Leaders.

The Premier said that since its inception, the Steering Committee of the Constitutional Assembly had met for 40 sessions so far. The committee had extensive discussions on the first and second chapters of the constitution on the issues of sovereignty and religion. There is no intention whatsoever to change the existing provisions and they would be further strengthened, he said. Opposition Leader R. Sampanthan said that formulating a new constitution was a sacred task.