20A needed urgently to reconstitute CC: SLPP

Tuesday, 25 August 2020 00:43 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Says 20A will not target specific individuals like its predecessor 
  • Hints at removal of dual citizenship restriction in 20A 
  • Dismisses independent commissions as “deeply flawed” 
  • Proposes to change electoral system under new Constitution

By Nuwan Senarathna

The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) yesterday expressed urgent need to reconstitute the Constitutional Council (CC) and dismissed impendent institutions under the 19th Amendment as “deeply flawed” underlining their plans to pass the 20th Amendment as soon as possible.

Speaking to reporters at the SLPP head office, Chairman Prof. G.L. Peiris said the Government expects to address what he termed as “shortcomings” in the 19th Amendment, such as the membership of the CC and hinted that the new amendment would do away with the dual citizenship prohibition in the 19th Amendment.

“The independent commissions are deeply flawed. There are lot of shortcomings and they need to be addressed. I do not think these commissions are independent and I firmly believe they were formed to imprison the Rajapaksas,” he said.

Prof. Peiris noted that civil society members of CC would not be removed even after the new Government was appointed and said this needed to be rectified as soon as possible. He also repeated his criticism of what he termed as “excessive behaviour” by the members of some commissions. 

“Certain Independent Commission members were more political in their behaviour than Parliamentarians ahead of the parliamentary elections. That is not healthy for the country. That needs to be stopped and we have to address shortcomings of those issues to strengthen the independent commission system.”

He noted the Government would not expect to make Constitutional changes that will benefit one particular individual. The Education Minister claimed that the clause, which prevents dual citizens from contesting elections, was brought in to keep Rajapaksa family out of politics, but that the changes proposed by the SLPP will be broader in their outlook and not targeted at a specific person.  

“First we have to look why the clause preventing dual citizens from contesting elections and entering Parliament was brought in. It is clear that this was to prevent members of the Rajapaksa family from contesting elections. The clause directly targeted the Rajapaksa family.”

Prof. Peiris noted the Government will bring the 20th Amendment within this year as that was one of the key promises made during the election. According to Prof. Peiris the 20th Amendment will address all shortcomings of the 19th Amendment.

Referring to bringing in a new Constitution, the SLPP Chairman noted that changing the electoral system will be a key change. “This is the time to make changes to the electoral system. We have to make use of this chance. The current electoral system creates issues and I believe we have to change the electoral system,” he added.