Colombo, Aug 29 (PTI) The reform process of the Sri Lankan Constitution would be underway very soon after the government abolished the 19th Amendment that curtailed the powers of the president and strengthened the role of Parliament.
Minister of Information Keheliya Rambukwella said the new government will first abolish the 19th Amendment 'which created a lot of confusion and instability within the government.” “The people have given us a mandate to bring in a new Constitution which will address all issues”, Rambukwella insisted.
He said the Constitution reform process would be underway very soon, he told reporters on Friday.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa outlined his commitment to abolish the 19th Amendment during his ceremonial address to Parliament last week.
The 19A Amendment adopted in 2015 by the then reformist government was subject to much criticism by the Rajapaksa clan as it prevented dual citizens from contesting elections. At the time, two of the Rajapaksa family members including the current president were dual citizens of the US and Sri Lanka.
President's younger brother and SLPP founder and its National Organiser Basil Rajapaksa is a dual citizen of US and Sri Lanka. There are 5 of them already in government.
During the August 5 election, the Sri Lanka People's Party (SLPP) sought two thirds parliamentary mandate or 150 seats in the 225-member assembly to effect constitutional changes, the foremost of them was the move to abolish the 19A.
The SLPP and allies won 150 seats and have a two-third majority to effect the constitutional change they desire.
While Gotabaya Rajapaksa was elected as the Sri Lankan President in November last year, his eldest brother Mahida Rajapaksa won the general election and assumed charge as Prime Minister on August 9.
The Opposition has accused the government of trying to abolish 19A to make room for another member of the Rajapaksa family to enter Parliament.
The 19A was the main election plank of the previous government.
The 19A depoliticised the government administration by ensuring the independence of key pillars such as the judiciary, public service and elections.
The reformists in 2015 argued that the 19A was needed to correct the power imbalance created by the 18A which the government of Mahinda Rajapaksa in 2010 had introduced.
The 18A lifted the two term bar for a president to run for office.
The 19A brought in the reversal bringing back the two terms bar and reducing the presidential term from 6 to 5 years. It pruned the powers of the presidency and empowered Parliament. PTI CORR RS RS