Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka looks to curb powers of embattled President Gotabaya Rajapaksa -21A presented to the Cabinet

The 21st Amendment to the Constitution was presented to the Cabinet of Ministers on Monday (23).

The Cabinet took the decision to distribute copies of the amendment amongst the Parliament Party Leaders for their observations. This will be discussed on Friday (27). Following this, the amendment will be sent back to Cabinet for final approval, said Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in a video statement.

“The Cabinet Ministers have now referred the  proposal to the party leaders. It will be approved by the Cabinet next week,” the minister added.

The 21st Amendment is expected to annul the 20th Amendment which gave unfettered powers to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa after abolishing the 19th Amendment which had made Parliament powerful over the President.

The 21st Amendment to the Constitution also seeks to further strengthen the powers of the existing commissions and to make them independent as well.

“Those who have dual citizenship will be disqualified from their seat in Parliament if this proposal gets passed in parliament,” the senior minister added.

The amendment primarily aims at reducing the powers of the Executive President.

It also proposes to re-establish the constitutional council and independent commissions that were weakened through the 20th amendment.

Among the members of the constitutional council would be the Prime Minister, Speaker, Opposition Leader and a parliamentarian appointed by the President.

The council will also include;

Two parliamentarians nominated by both the Prime
Minister and Opposition Leader,

A professional nominated by the Sri Lanka Organization of Professionals Association;

A person nominated by Sri Lanka Chamber of Commerce;

And a professor of a State University nominated by the University Grants Commission.

These members would be nominated by the President.

A parliamentarian from a party that is not represented by the Prime Minister or the Opposition Leader will also be included in the council.

The amendment also seeks to re-establish the Elections Commission, Public Service Commission, National Police Commission, Human Rights Commission, Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption, Finance Commission, Delimitation Commission and the National Procurement Commission.

The President will be allowed to appoint the Chairpersons and members to these commissions based on the recommendations of the constitutional council.

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