Maduluwawe Sobitha, a pioneer of constitutional reformation movement addressing the protest rally (Photo: Chandana Prasanna/ NIDAHASA News)

19th amendment passed with overwhelmingly majority

Tue, 28 April 2015 10:13


(NIDAHASA News) Sri Lanka parliament today approved a constitution amendment, which would curb powers of president and place police and judiciary under independent bodies.

The 2nd reading 19th amendment to the constitution was passed with 2015 votes in favor of it; only one parliamentarian voted against it; one abstained; 7 MPs were absent.

The amendment will also restores two-term presidential term limit, which was scrapped by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Initially the bill was scheduled to table on the 10th of April, but postponed twice due to non-cooperation of the UPFA. Several civil right groups protested in front of parliament in support of amendment yesterday and condemned the MPs who failed to support amendment saying they are going against 'people's mandate.'

Constitutional reformation was a main slogan of President Maithipala Sirisena's election campaign.

Sirisena, who defeated Rajapaksa in his run for a third term on 8th January, promised to abolish executive presidency. Main opposition United National Party (UNP) and a wide alliance of civil organizations backed Sirisena to end Rajapaksa's decade-long regime, which was accused of massive corruptions and abuse of power.

Several civil right groups protested in front of parliament yesterday in support of amendment (Photo: Chandana Prasanna/ NIDAHASA News)

However some sections of the first draft were amended or altered after Supreme Court ruled that those sections need a referendum. It was further watered down to secured the support of main opposition United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA), which still holds the majority power in parliament.

“This is not ideal. We had to compromise because we don’t have a two-thirds majority on our own,” Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told parliament.

According to Sirisena's earlier pledge, the parliament should be dissolved soon after passing the amendment. However it's still unclear whether he would wait for a 20th amendment, which would amend the election system. Government earlier planned to table election system alteration after the election, but opposition insists it should be passed before dissolving the parliament.

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