ECONOMYNEXT – President Gotabaya Rajapaksa says he wants his party to get a two-thirds majority in Parliament to make changes in the Constitution but not necessarily revert to the 18th Amendment which did away with term limits to the Presidency.
“I have no objection to term limits, in fact, I think I need only one-term to fulfil my intentions,” he told reporters in Colombo on Thursday.
He is opposed to the independent commissions he said, because “these commissions are not truly independent and are political.”
He said that during the Presidential Elections one member of the Elections Commission expressed views contrary to the rest of the Commission in public fora.
“How is this commission to function when one member goes out and expresses a different opinion in public?” the President asked.
Pressed by reporters on the question of Missing Persons Rajapaksa repeated his assertions that most of the missing are deceased. “When there is a war going on a lot of combatants die and some of the bodies cannot be recovered. So their families believe they are missing because they have not seen the remains.”
He said that there some 4,000 Sri Lankan Armed Forces personnel declared missing. “At Muhamalai we lost more than a hundred soldiers and when the bodies were given to us by the Red Cross sometime later they were unrecognizable. So we did not accept the bodies,” he said.
When one reporter said that many of the families were asking for the whereabouts of family members who surrendered to the Armed Forces he said “there may be specific cases. But you can’t generalize.” Asked about missing journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda the President said: “we don’t know whether he is alive or dead.”
Asked to comment on militarization and the appointment of ex-Military officers to key government positions, he said past governments had also done so and “nobody said anything. When I do it people point to it.”
He said by the time an officer becomes a General he would have followed at least 20 courses overseas and acquired considerable knowledge and skills. “These officers are result-oriented and countries around the world use their skills, so why not us,” he asked.(Colombo, March 5, 2020)