President promotes unity on P’ment anniversary

Wednesday, 4 October 2017 00:10 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


  • Says all 70 years important, commends former leaders including Rajapaksa 
  • Recalls 19th Amendment an effort to increase P’ment powers 
  • Vision to establish a new Constitution devoid of prejudice which enhances unity and strengthens P’ment

By Ashwin Hemmathagama – Our Lobby Correspondent

Political parties represented in Parliament were urged by President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday to set aside divisions and uphold the sovereignty of the people, which has been preserved for seven decades. 

President Sirisena made this request while addressing the House, which sat independently to mark the 70th anniversary of the first Parliament of democratic Sri Lanka. He also said his vision was to establish a new Constitution devoid of prejudice, which enhanced unity and strengthened Parliament.  

The President, walking through the corridors of time, remembered the difficulties the leaders underwent to establish democracy, universal franchise and obtain independence, as well as highlighting the importance of the supremacy of Parliament. 

“We have come a long way and have weathered difficulty. The time has come to make use of those experiences and to join hands to develop the country. The Executive, Judiciary and the Legislature should work in ways that will not create friction, but to uphold the sovereignty of the people,” he said.

“I strongly reiterate that Parliament and the members set aside their petty divisions. Fundamental rights, human rights, democracy should be established. Economic prosperity should also be established. The rule of law has to be ensured, an independent Judiciary is especially required,” he added.

Commending the leaders who came forward to uphold the supremacy of Parliament at difficult times, the President said: “All seven decades are equally important to us. From the time the Soulbury Commission led to establishing the first Parliament all successive governments took efforts to establish democracy. We started governing the country differently with the change of the Constitution in 1972. 

“The passing of the 1978 Constitution created an executive presidency with unlimited powers and authority. It was an action that limited the powers of the Parliament in a way, but was not as bad as the 18th Amendment to the Constitution. The 18th Amendment placed the Parliament in a very difficult position. But the current Government moved the 19th Amendment and was able to repeal the 18th Amendment. It was a significant move we made to strengthen parliamentary democracy,” said the President.

Naming a few political leaders, Sirisena said: “I also commend all those who helped establish democracy within the country as well as from abroad, including D.S. Senanayake, S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, Sirimavo Bandaranaike, Dudley Senanayake, J.R. Jayawardene, Ranasinghe Premadasa, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, D.B. Wijetunga and Mahinda Rajapaksa.”

The President also made note of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) delegates seated in the Speaker’s Gallery and stressed the importance of regional corporation and harmony, which will help each nation attain prosperity and peace.  

“As a result of the national programs organised, I am happy to see the Speakers of SAARC countries who are here accepting our invitation. I warmly receive them on behalf of the Government and the nation as they are here to strengthen our relationships in the SAARC region. We all should work towards strengthening regional cooperation. Certain sacrifices are required to establish mercantile and trade relations, democracy, tolerance and peace in our region,” he added.