Protest aftermath: 21st Amendment submitted to cabinet to curtail president’s power in Sri Lanka

After coming to power in 2019, the Rajapaksa government passed the 20th Amendment, concentrating more power in an executive presidency at the cost of weakening parliament and the cabinet

May 24, 2022
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Sri Lankan PM Wickremesinghe

The Sri Lankan cabinet has received the draft of the proposed 21st Amendment, a long pending demand of the protestors seeking to curtail the executive power of the president by restoring some provisions of the 19th Amendment, under which the parliament and cabinet had wide-ranging powers.

The constitutional amendment was one of the key promises Ranil Wickremesinghe made when he was appointed as prime minister earlier this month. The government on Monday said that the draft would be discussed with political party leaders before it is finalised.

The proposed amendment, drafted by PM Wickremesinghe and Justice Minister Wijayadasa Rajapaksa, has reinstated the provisions of the 19th Amendment, whilst adding a number of other provisions, such as those related to an Audit Services Commission, Procurement Commission, and parliamentary oversight during the appointment of the governor to the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL).

After coming to power in 2019, the Rajapaksa government passed the 20th Amendment, concentrating more power in an executive presidency at the cost of weakening parliament and the cabinet.

However, the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) has expressed concern over the proposed draft, pointing out several vital missing provisions of the 19th Amendment.

The BASL said that the 21st Amendment must include a provision amending Article 44(2) of the Constitution to remove the power of the president to retain ministries and assign any subjects or functions to himself, The Morning said.

Mano Ganesan, a prominent Tamil leader of the island, also stressed political restructuring.
“Movers of the 21st Amendment must be mindful of this. Any delay and hidden agenda, if any, will only bring more protests and instability,” Ganesan said in a tweet.

(SAM)

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