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19th Amendment expected to sail smooth

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With Parliament set to meet on Tuesday (January 20) for the first time since the conclusion of the presidential election, the process of abolishing the ‘authoritarian’ executive presidential system, one of the main campaign pledges of President Maithripala Sirisena, is set to commence this week.

The process will begin with the repealing of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution and the introduction of the 19th Amendment, which according to the 100-Day program of President Sirisena’s government, is expected to take place this Wednesday (January 21).

Speaking to The Nation yesterday (January 17), newly appointed Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said the draft 19th Amendment was now in the final stages of preparation. “We started on the draft even before the election. We are hopeful of completing it and introducing the draft amendment on schedule,” he said.

With the repealing of the 18th Amendment, executive powers would be transferred to the Cabinet of Ministers who will be responsible to Parliament, Rajapakshe stressed.

The primary aim of the 19th Amendment meanwhile, is to introduce legislation aimed at strengthening independent commissions, namely the Judicial Services Commission, Police Commission, Public Service Commission, Elections Commission, Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption and the Human Rights Commission.

The government hopes to pass the 19th Amendment through Parliament as swiftly as possible and is unlikely to face significant opposition, with the vast majority in the legislature having already pledged support to President Sirisena’s 100-Day program.  

Meanwhile, according to the 100-Day program, the government is also to amend the Standing Orders of Parliament this week and, in terms of Proposal 67/10 now tabled in Parliament, is set to establish Oversight Committees comprising Members of Parliament who are not in the Cabinet. Their Chairmanship will be given to representatives of all Ministers in consultation with the leaders of all parties represented in Parliament, according to the 100-Day program.

Last modified on Monday, 19 January 2015 10:47
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