Millennium Post

Lanka govt approves pruning of presidential powers

Sri Lanka’s cabinet of ministers on Sunday approved the 19th amendment to the country’s constitution pruning presidential powers, as part of major constitutional reforms promised by new President Maithripala Sirisena during his election campaign.

“At the special cabinet meeting held today the ministers decided to approve the amendment,” spokesman and minister of health Rajitha Senaratne said.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had presented the cabinet with a 62-page document on the constitutional reforms pledged during Sirisena’s 100-day governance programme.

“The amendment seeks to prune presidential powers. His term will be reduced to (maximum) two 5-year terms. Also the President will not be able to dissolve parliament on his will,” Senaratne said explaining the provisions.

“The President will remain head of state and head of government,” Senaratne said adding that the present proportional representation-based parliamentary election system will also be changed.

“It will be a mixed system. The draft bill approved by the cabinet will be gazetted tonight,” he said.
Sirisena, who defeated his predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa in the snap January 8 presidential election, was elected on his reform pledges, foremost among them were scaling back presidential powers in order to strengthen parliament.

His unity government has been under pressure to adopt the pledged reforms within 100 days of its rule by April 23.  


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