JVP backs 20A to abolish executive presidency

Wednesday, 19 December 2018 00:05 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}



  • Says the past seven weeks have provided ample evidence for abolishment 
  • Calls on civil society and public to continue battle 
  • Calls on P’ment to support the abolishment, insists time is now 
  • Despite pledges from multiple Presidents, Executive powers remain 
  • Believes RW would also fail to abolish Executive Presidency if given two thirds   

JVP lawmakers yesterday proposed to abolish the Executive Presidency based on the lessons learnt from the constitutional crisis, by proposing the Parliament pass the 20th Amendment that was presented in September.

Moving the adjournment debate yesterday in Parliament, Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) lawmaker Dr. Nalinda Jayatissa proposed the House to pass the 20th Amendment Bill moved on 5 September as a private member motion, proposing to bring an end to the much-debated Executive Presidency.

Based on historical facts, the 1978 Constitution, which provides necessary parameter for Executive Presidency, has been challenged at different levels in diverse forums during the last four decades. It is mostly leftist political parties that have challenged the nature of the Executive Presidency and the powers vested within its grasp.

“The Executive Presidency introduced in 1978 damaged the country during the last four decades. Abolishing the Executive Presidency is a key election promise made in all elections that took place since 1988. Pledge to abolish Executive Presidency won all presidential elections held in 1994, 2005, and 2015. The anti-democratic nature of the Executive Presidency and the arbitrary decision making was highly visible in the recent past. So, I propose the House to abolish the Executive Presidency,” held MP Dr. Jayatissa.

According to Dr. Jayatissa, the Executive Presidency has led the country to chaos from time to time and was rejected by people who are in favour of a civilised political culture in the country. “Political forces pushed to abolish Executive Presidency since 1982. The political manifesto of late Sirimavo Bandaranaike, presented in 1988 Presidential Election, had plans to abolish Executive Presidency. True SLFPers who sweated for the party wished to abolish the Executive Presidency going with Sirimavo’s manifesto.”

 “Then in 1994, the abolishing of Executive Presidency took a key place. Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga gave a written assurance to abolish the Executive Presidency. Then in 2005, the election manifesto of former President MP Mahinda Rajapaksa promised to abolish the Executive Presidency. Again in 2015 it was held to reduce powers of the Executive Presidency and to make it responsible to the Parliament,” he added.

Due to the unlimited power and authority of the Executive Presidency, it has become a tool widely used at different times to change Governments, ban political opponents and parties, postpone elections, suppress the nation by preventing people from expressing their thoughts and protesting, to safeguard criminals, violate laws, rob State establishments and also to enter into critical agreements unfavourable for the country, he said. 

Looking at the decade under Rajapaksa regime, MP Dr. Jayatissa held that people who were unhappy came forward for change in January 2015. “Diverse social groups and political parties including the JVP took to the path which led to abolish the Executive Presidency. Maithripala Sirisena walked out from Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) promising to abolish the Executive Presidency. In his maiden speech at the New Town Hall, Sirisena pledged to abolish the Executive Presidency within the first 100 days. Then he went on to address the nation on diverse platforms located in different parts of the country, promising to abolish the Executive Presidency,” said MP Jayatissa who highlighted the fact that President Sirisena failed to deliver his promise.

Charging President Sirisena for failing in his duty to abolish the Executive Presidency, JVP MP Dr. Jayatissa wanted the House’s support to pass the 20th Amendment Bill, which would be the ideal solution to cub the powers of Executive President.

“President Maithripala Sirisena’s behaviour during the last 50 days is adequate to decide the necessity of the Executive Presidency. Generally, the Executive Presidents had the party power and the majority in the Parliament. President Sirisena had neither of these, but behaved in such a way. Sirisena was looking for loopholes in the Constitution, check the signatures of the no-confidence motions, and check the documents for use of correction fluids. We need not continue to have the Executive Presidency having witnessed the proceedings of the last 40 years and especially what took place during the last 50 days,” he charged.

Dr. Jayatissa urged civil society and political parties to continue their campaign, which started with the constitutional crisis, and to end the Executive Presidency before it is too late.

“Based on the behaviour of those who become Executive Presidents in Sri Lanka it is not advisable to continue to have the Executive Presidency. There are small political parties similar to ticks on a dog that always tag along with bigger political parties. Let the people decide the fate of the Executive Presidency. Recently Ranil Wickremesinghe held he will abolish the Executive Presidency, provided he gets 2/3 majority in Parliament. This is not going to work at all. Any leader with 2/3 majority will not abolish the Executive Presidency. Now is the chance for all those who stood against the constitutional crisis to make way to abolish the Executive Presidency and bring in a Parliamentary democracy,” he added.

JVP lawmaker Vijith Herath seconded the motion and the debate is to continue today in Parliament.

 The 20th Amendment moved in the Parliament as a private member Bill proposed to amend the Constitution to abolish the Executive Presidency. The Bill mainly proposed amending Articles 4, 30, 31, 33, 34, 35, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 41c, 42, 43, 44, 46, 48, 50, 51, 52, 65, 70, 80, 85, 88, 89, 92, 93, 94, 99, 111C, 129, 153, and 156 of the current Constitution. Later on, the Bill was referred to the Minister of National Policies and Economic Affairs for report to Parliament under Standing Order 52 (6) of the Parliament.  (AH)