ECONOMYNEXT- A group of government Members of Parliament who opposed the proposal to disallow dual-citizens to hold political office have changed their minds and will support the motion, Minister Udaya Gammanpila told reporters today.
Nationalist groups opposed to the dual citizenship clause had put pressure on these leaders to have the clause removed and initially they had said they were not voting with the government on this.
Gammanpila, a Cabinet Minister, said this following a discussion with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday
The MPs who are members of smaller parties which contested under the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna umbrella said they have arrived at a compromise to the issue.
Gammanpila said that the President has promised to include a clause in the new constitution, he has promised to bring in before November next year, which would not allow dual citizens to contest in Presidential or Parliamentary elections.
The group which includes Wimal Weerawansa, Gammanpila, Vasudeva Nanayakkara, Wijedasa Rajapaksa and Prof Tissa Vitharana had met President Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday to discuss the issue of dual citizenship.
Speaking at a joint press conference held this morning, he said that they got huge mandate at the elections to their promise to temporarily abolish 19th amendment and bring in a new constitution,
“However, in the debate of 20th amendment, if there are positive characters in the 19th amendment we made a promise to protect them,” he added
So he said that the government will retain the clause that will limit the terms and duration of the President and the parliament and the clause that will keep Right to Information as a basic right of the people as mentioned in 19th amendment.
Further, he said amendments such as raising the number of member of the Election Commission to 5 members, allow the President to dissolve the parliament after two-and-a-half years since the election and including President and Prime Minister’s offices and other state institution to the audit of Auditor General which were present Attorney General were included.
“Also, the determination of the Supreme Court said the government will have to go for a referendum in order to remove the right for the people to file Fundamental Rights cases against President and the right to punish public officials who violate the directions of Election Commission,” he said.
Moreover, Gammanpila said that the cabinet decided on the issue of emergency acts, limiting the number of cabinet ministers, including state institutions to the audit of the Auditor General.
“The issue of dual citizens was the only demand which was not fulfilled, however, the President said that there was no debate about the dual citizenship in the society before, this clause was brought to stop him from running for the presidency, so there is an emotional problem about this clause, so give him a chance to remove this clause,” he said.
“We will support 20th amendment, however, Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) as a party does not agree on policy-wise to allow dual citizens to contest parliamentary and presidential elections,” said Gammanpila. (Colombo/Oct22/2020-sb)
Reported by Imesh Ranasinghe