By Uditha Jayasinghe
The Government has tabled a resolution in parliament on 9 January for the appointment of a Constitutional Assembly that will abolish the Executive Presidency and establish election reform that will end the preferential voting system, which will be approved by a referendum.
The Addendum to the Order Book released to media states it has become necessary to enact a new Constitution that, inter alia, abolishes the Executive Presidency, ensures a fair and representative Electoral System which eliminates preferential voting.
The new Constitution is also aimed at “Strengthening democratic rights of all citizens,provide a Constitutional Resolution of the national issue, promote national reconciliation, establish a political culture that respects the rule of law, guarantee to the People’s fundamental rights and freedom that assure human dignity and promotes responsible and accountable government.”
If the resolution is passed all members of parliament will sit as a Constitutional Assembly for the purpose of deliberating a new Constitution and preparing a draft of the Constitution Bill for the consideration of the House. Speaker Karu Jayasuriya will be the Chairman of the Constitutional Assembly and it will have seven deputies elected by parliament members.
A Steering Committee headed by the Prime Minister and 17 other members including the Leader of the House, Opposition leader and Justice Minister will be appointed to prepare a draft of the new Constitution Bill. The Steering Committee will appoint other sub-committees, consult experts and other stakeholders in the process to draft the Constitution Bill, which will be presented to Cabinet and parliament upon completion. All proceedings of the Constitutional Assembly will be open to the public and proceedings will be published.
The Constitutional Assembly must approve the Constitution Bill with a two-thirds majority before it can be submitted before Cabinet. If it is approved by Cabinet it will be Gazetted and circulated by the president to all provincial councils for feedback, the document noted. The Bill will be adopted as the new Constitution of Sri Lanka if it gains a majority in a people’s referendum.
“For the avoidance of doubt, it is hereby further declared that a Constitution Bill shall only be enacted into law if it is passed in Parliament by a special majority of two-thirds of the whole number of the Members of Parliament, including those notpresent and subsequently approved by the people at a Referendum as required by Article 83 of the Constitution,” the document said.