By Ashwin Hemmathagama –
Our Lobby Correspondent
The Constitutional Council assembled yesterday for the first time in Parliament with the mandate to draft a new Constitution with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe appointed to head the Operations Committee.
The Constitutional Council will be chaired by Karu Jayasuriya along with seven other deputy chairmen. Making a historical move to repel the 1978 Constitution, Speaker Jayasuriya said: “A serious public consensus was seen to establish a new constitution, which will address the abolishing of executive presidency and establishing a new election system different from the preferential votes system of today. So, as public representatives you have a serious task in front of you. A national council has been appointed by the Prime Minister to travel throughout the country to gather public opinion and suggestion.”
According to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe a report is expected before the 30th of this month to giving progress of consultations and detail the appointing of sub-committees.
Giving the operational guidelines for the Constitutional Council, Speaker Jayasuriya noted executing Article 75 of the Constitution to draft a new Constitution has resulted in the entire Parliament being converted to a Constitutional Council with full authority. The Constitutional Council proceedings are open to media and will be made available to the public via a live transmission from Rupavahini. In parallel, a separate committee with parliament representatives will gather public opinion about the Constitutional Council.
To facilitate the Speaker’s at the Constitutional Council, Deputy Speaker Thilanga Sumathipala, ITAK MP Selvam Adaikkalanathan, Minister of Public Enterprise Development Kabir Hashim, State Minister of City Planning and Water Supply Sudarshini Fernandopulle, UNP MP Thilak Marapana, UPFA MP Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, JVP MP Dr. Nalinda Jayathissa were proposed by Minister of Higher Education and Highways and the Leader of the House of Parliament Lakshman Kiriella. The names were seconded by ITAK MP M.A. Sumanthiran.
Minister of Parliamentary Reforms and Mass Media and the Chief Government Whip Gayantha Karunathileka proposed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to head the steering committee with Minister of Higher Education and Highways and the Leader of the House of Parliament Lakshman Kiriella, Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation Nimal Siripala de Silva, Minister of City Planning and Water Supply Rauff Hakeem, Minister of Justice and Minister of Buddhasasana Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, Minister of Science, Technology and Research Susil Premajayantha, Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen, Minister of Megapolis and Western Development Patali Champika Ranawaka, Minister of Prisons Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs D.M. Swaminathan, Minister of National Co-existence, Dialogue and Official Languages Mano Ganesan, Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade Malik Samarawickrama, Leader of the Opposition Rajavarothiam Sampanthan, Chief Opposition Whip Anura Dissanayaka, State Minister of Highways Dilan Perera, UPFA MP Dinesh Gunawardena,UNP MP Jayampathy Wickramaratne, ITAK MP M.A. Sumanthiran, UNP MP Thusitha Wijemanna, UPFA MP Prasanna Ranatunga, and UPFA MP Dullas Alahapperuma.
Portfolio changes in UNP
The Working Committee (WC) of the United National Party(UNP) yesterday made changes to several posts ahead of possible Local Government elections.
Accordingly, Primary Industries Minister Daya Gamage, who was the National Organiser of the UNP has been appointed as the Deputy Chairman of the party while his wife Deputy Minister of Petroleum Resources Development Dr. Anoma Gamage was appointed to chairperson of the Eksath Lak Vanitha Peremuna, which was held by Shanthini Kongahage earlier.
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Harsha de Silva and State Minister of Defense Ruwan Wijewardene have been appointed as Assistant Secretaries of the party.
Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam has been appointed as the Chairman of the Jathika Sevaka Sangamaya while Telecommunications and Digital Infrastructure Minister Harin Fernando was appointed to the Jathika Wathu Kamkaru Sevaka Sangamaya as its Chairman.
MP Kavinda Jayawardena was appointed to the Chairmanship of National Youth Front which was previously held by State Minister Wijewardene.(CG)