Sri Lanka PM moves to abolish executive presidency, preferential voting

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday moved a motion in Parliament to appoint a Constitutional Council to enact a new constitution that abolishes the executive presidency, eliminates preferential voting, strengthens democratic rights of all citizens and provides a constitutional resolution of the national issue.

The motion has been signed by the Prime Minister, Ministers Nimal Siripala De Silva, Lakshman Kiriella, Rauff Hakeem, Malik Samarawickrama, DM Swaminathan, Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe and Patali Champik Ranawaka.

The Prime Minister, moving the motion, said that the proposed new Constitution is expected to ensure a fair and representative electoral system, which eliminates preferential voting, strengthens the democratic rights of all citizens, provides a Constitutional solution to the national issue, promotes national reconciliation, establishes a political culture that respects the rule of law, guarantees to the People's fundamental rights and freedom that assure human dignity and promotes responsible and accountable government.

The proposed committee will responsible for drafting the new Constitution. The Constitutional Assembly, which will consist of all Members of Parliament, will be convened for the purpose of deliberating, and seeking the views and advice of the people, on a new Constitution for Sri Lanka, and preparing a draft of a Constitution Bill for the consideration of Parliament in the exercise of its powers under Article 75 of the current Constitution.

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya will be the Chairman of the Constitutional Assembly, which will have seven other Deputy Chairmen who will be elected by the Constitutional Assembly. In the absence of the Speaker, one of these Deputy Chairmen would chair the sittings of the Assembly. The quorum for meetings of the Constitutional Assembly will be 20, according to the resolution.

The motion was seconded by Leader of the House, University Education and Highways Minister Lakshman Kiriella.

The Prime Minister said that 19 proposals had so far been forwarded by other parties to the motion and all those would be considered for amending the motion.

The debate on the motion would be held on January 12.

Party leaders have agreed to hold a special session of Parliament on January 12 seeking parliament's approval to convert itself into a constitutional assembly.

Sources said the joint opposition, JVP and others have submitted amendments for it.

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya confirmed that several amendments have been received and these should be taken into consideration.