Colombo, Jun 5 (PTI) The 21st Amendment to the Constitution to empower the Sri Lankan Parliament over the executive president will be submitted to the Cabinet for approval on Monday, Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said on Sunday.
The 21st Amendment is expected to annul the 20A to the Constitution, which gives unfettered powers to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa after abolishing the 19th Amendment that will strengthen Parliament. Rajapakshe said that a special discussion on the matter was held with the backing of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa last week. He along with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Foreign minister G L Peiris participated in the discussion, Lanka First, an online news portal reported.
Rajapakshe said that the 21st Amendment to the Constitution, including proposals submitted by political parties and various other parties, will be submitted to the Cabinet for approval on Monday, the portal reported. He said that the draft of the amendment will be gazetted after receiving the approval of the Cabinet. Rajapakshe said that he expects to make a statement in Parliament on the 21st Amendment to the Constitution next week.
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe last week batted for the 21st Amendment to the Constitution, saying it will curb the president’s unlimited powers while enhancing the role of Parliament in governing the debt-ridden country which is also facing an unprecedented political turmoil. The powerful Rajapaksa family tightened their grip on power after their massive victory in the general elections in August 2020, which allowed them to amend the Constitution to restore presidential powers and install close family members in key positions.
The constitutional reform was a major plank of the agreement between Wickremesinghe and Rajapaksa when he took over the job of prime minister on May 12. Sri Lanka has been grappling with unprecedented economic turmoil since its independence from Britain in 1948. Sri Lanka’s economic crisis has created political unrest with protesters demanding the President’s resignation.
Under the 21A, the President will be held accountable to the Parliament. The Cabinet of Ministers is also accountable to Parliament. The National Council is also accountable to Parliament. Fifteen Committees and Oversight Committees are accountable to Parliament. Sri Lanka in mid-April declared that it was unable to meet its foreign debt payments and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) classified Sri Lanka’s debt as unsustainable. Therefore debt restructuring was key for an IMF programme.