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Government has “desire for untrammelled power” – SJB  

ECONOMYNEXT – The main Opposition Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) is warning that the government’s desire to abolish the 19th Amendment to the Constitution comes from its greed for untrammelled power.

“All those wanting to preserve democracy in Sri Lanka must line up against this attempt to take away our freedoms,” the SJB said in a statement released this afternoon.

The statement pointed out that since the early 1990s, the people had voted for a reduction in the power of the presidency.

However, through the 18th Amendment brought in in 2010, the then government, turned the country into autocracy, with the President running the country ignoring Parliament.

“This resulted in the Chief Justice being summarily dismissed through an illegal process and the appointment of a faithful follower to the posts,” it said.

In 2015 through the intervention of freedom-loving Civil Society and backed by the Maha Sangha led by Maduluwawe Sobhitha Thero a new government was elected and many democratic reforms enacted.

The President’s term was limited to two, five-year terms and dissolution of Parliament could not be done for four-and-a-half years.

The President was disallowed from holding any Cabinet posts and the Independent Commissions to control elections, the Police, Human Rights, the Auditor-General and the Public Service were created.

The people were also granted the Right to Information, the statement said.

The democracy-loving peoples of this country should take serious note of the statement made by the President in his policy statement in Parliament this week in which he says the 19A will be “abolished.”

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“This would mean the march of democracy would be making an about-turn,” the statement went on.

“This move reveals a desire for untrammelled power,” the SJB said.

“This is not strengthening the democratic rights of citizens but attempts to create a service state,” the statement added.

“We call on all democracy-loving people to join us in the struggle to protect our freedom.” (Colombo, August 24, 2020)

Reported by Arjuna Ranawana