20A will open the door to dictatorship: Ruwan Wijewardene

Saturday, 3 October 2020 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Says UNP will fight against its adoption; warns preferential position given to Buddhism may also be affected 

By Asiri Fernando

The proposed 20th Amendment will weaken democratic institutions and open the door to dictatorship, United National Party (UNP) Deputy Leader Ruwan Wijewardene warned yesterday, pledging that his party will do its utmost to block the legislation from being approved.   

Issuing a statement, Wijewardene said that the UNP will work to prevent the erosion of peoples’ sovereignty, which is at risk if the proposed 20th Amendment is implemented. He stated that the Government is strengthening the Executive while weakening the legislature and judiciary. 

“Democracy is sustained by the balance of three pillars. They are the legislature, Executive and the Judiciary. The free media acts as a fourth pillar. In the proposed 20th Amendment, we see an effort to weaken three of these pillars; the legislature, free media and the judiciary; while all the power is centralized under the Executive” Wijewardene stated. 

One of the key roles of the Constitution is to uphold the people’s sovereignty and weakening it will be resisted by the UNP, he said. The de-listing of public institutions and key Government offices from the scope of the Auditor General and weakening of anti-corruption measures was paving the way for less accountability, he warned. If the 20th Amendment is voted in without significant change, the future of judicial independence and fair elections will be in question, he opined. 

“These are direct threats against democracy and we will not stand for it,” Wijewardene added.  

Wijewardene questioned the Government’s rationale on the need for the 20th Amendment, recalling how well the COVID-19 crisis was managed by the President while the 19th Amendment was in effect.  

The Deputy Leader stated that the loss of the people’s sovereignty could lead to the preferential position granted to Buddhism by the Constitution being threatened. “We have always fought to protect the foremost position given to Buddhism by the Constitution. The UNP will not allow that to be changed.”