Monday, 22 December 2014 00:00
Common opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena’s campaign has released a comprehensive timetable to make sweeping changes to Sri Lanka’s governance system and promised parliamentary elections under a Westminster-style system by 23 April 2015.
Ready to race: Opposition’s common presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena seen worshipping at a shrine at Vihara Mahadevi Park prior to the launch of his manifesto on Friday - Pic by Shehan Gunasekera
The 100-day plan released with candidate Sirisena’s manifesto last Friday (19) pledges a national Government and new Cabinet with UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe as its Prime Minister three days after the presidential election.
The process to change from a presidential to a parliamentary system will begin when Parliament is summoned on 19 January 2015. The Sirisena campaign is pledging to repeal the 18th Amendment by 21 January. The 19th Amendment to the Constitution, restoring independent commissions scrapped when the 17th Amendment was repealed, will be enacted on the same day.
The new administration will also unveil its interim budget on 29 January, the campaign document pledges. The budget will include a host of relief measures including a Rs. 10,000 salary hike for public servants if the common candidate wins election on 8 January. Public servants will also be granted a Rs. 5000 immediate relief allowance in February 2015, one month after the key poll.
Electoral reform will also be part of Sirisena’s 100-day program, with the scrapping of the system of proportional representation and the introduction of a ‘mixed’ electoral system which will allow candidates to be elected on the first-past-the-post system.
Speaking to Daily FT, senior lawyers involved in drafting the sweeping constitutional changes said plans for abolition of the executive presidential system were “on track.”
Following the enactment of constitutional amendments, executive power will only be formally with the President as was the case under the 1972 Constitution, the lawyers said.
A return to the parliamentary system will mean that the President would always act on advice as in all countries with a parliamentary form of government.
Opposition forces have rallied around the platform to bring about constitutional change including the scrapping of the presidential system, which they say concentrates too much power in the hands of a single individual.
Maithri, Ranil to address business community tomorrow
Common opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena will share his vision for a united and prosperous future with the business community at a key forum on 23 December from 10.30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. at King’s Court in the Cinnamon Lakeside.
Accompanying Sirisena will be UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, who will speak on the policy framework for boosting socioeconomic development within a stable policy environment. The duo will address the business community at the interactive forum titled ‘Let’s Unite’.
Since his selection as the common presidential candidate to end the regime of Mahinda Rajapaksa, Sirisena has drawn widespread support from all sections of society and the business forum will be an excellent opportunity to obtain key insights into the new vision of the joint opposition to harness a greater private sector role for equitable development in Sri Lanka.