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20A not centred around individuals, but will reverse 19A that targeted individuals: GL

Minister Prof G L Peiris speaking to reporters

ECONOMYNEXT – The 20th amendment to Sri Lanka’s constitution was not drafted to serve the interests of any individual but will, in fact, be a reversal of problematic provisions in the 19th amendment that had specifically targeted a single family, a government spokesman said.

Speaking to reporters earlier today, Minister Prof G L Peiris said the 19th amendment introduced by the previous government had singled out the family of former President and incumbent Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa by including provisions against virtually every Rajapaksa.

“For [current Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa], they increased the minimum age for running for president from 30 years to 35. A provision was included to prevent [incumbent President Gotabaya Rajapaksa] and [SLPP architect Basil Rajapaksa] from running for parliament. Another clause was added to prevent President Mahinda Rajapaksa from running for a third term. It was a farce. Can they really say that we are trying to bring in legislation centred around a person?” said Peiris, referring to opposition criticism of the draft amendment.

The 20th amendment seeks to restore some major powers of the the executive president that the previous amendment had trimmed to a significant degree.

“The objective of this amendment is to remove these changes they brought about from our law books and to remove the barriers that stand in the way of fulfilling our promises to the people,” said Peiris.

“By creating two power centres within the government and enabling a war between these two centres, you can never fulfill the promises made to the people. There will be no room for such a power struggle under the 20th amendment. It’ll be one government with one vision. It was with this in mind that the people gave this government a two-thirds majority,” he said.

Responding to a question on the proposed removal for a limit imposed by the 19th amendment to the number of cabinet and non-cabinet ministers, Peiris said the entire exercise was a facade.

“This was fraudulent. Was there really such a limit? To that very provision, they added a clause to say that the limit no longer applies in the case of a national government. The minute an MoU is signed with another party to form a so called national government, all of that ceases to be valid. They showed one thing and did something else in practice and misled the public,” said Peiris.

“There was no such limit. You can’t remove something that wasn’t there. We could’ve entered into an agreement with Douglas Devananda’s party if we wanted to do that,” he added. (Colombo/Sep7/2020)

 

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