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20th Amendment is necessary for National Security – Prof GL

Minister Prof G L Peiris speaking to reporters

ECONOMYNEXT – The government is introducing the 20th Amendment to the Constitution to ensure that a situation such as the security lapses that led to the Easter Sunday attacks does not recur a senior minister said.

Education Minister Prof G L Peiris told reporters that recent testimony led before the Presidential Commission probing the attacks make it clear that the information about the attacks which had been received by the authorities had not been directed to the right people at the right time.

“This was because of the power struggle between the Prime Minister and the President of that time which had been created by the 19th Amendment,” Peiris who is also the Chair of the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna said today September 28.

He said the powers now being vested in the Presidency is doing justice to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa who received a huge mandate from the people.

“Is it right that we do not empower the President as that is what the people wanted,” Peiris, a former Law Professor said.

Asked by reporters why there was such a hurry to bring in the 20A when there is no likelihood of a power struggle between the PM and the President as they were brothers, Peiris said that there are other provisions in the 19A which shackle the president.

“The people have given him a huge mandate and after that are we to clip his wings so that he can’t do the job, is it fair?” he asked.

Peiris said that the 19A is acting as a barrier to the President holding the post of the Minister of Defense. “This has to be changed,” he said.

The President also cannot sack the Inspector General of Police and appoint a new one. “How can he maintain law and order,” he asked.

In fact under the 20A too protection for the IGP remains as a vote in Parliament is necessary to sack the police chief.

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Asked as to why the Auditing of state-owned enterprises and the PM’s office and the President’s office has been stopped, he said Parliamentary Committee can still examine the accounts. (Colombo, September 28, 2020)

Reported by Arjuna Ranawana