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Sri Lanka seeks public support in constitutional reforms

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s government aims to draft a new constitution with wide public participation within existing parliamentary procedures and appeals to interest groups to put forward proposals, a spokesman said.

“The procedure laid down by the present constitution will be followed in drafting the new constitution,” said Jayampathy Wickramaratne, an expert in constitutional law and parliamentarian nominated by the ruling coalition.

“This requires the new constitution to be passed by a two-thirds parliamentary majority plus a referendum,” he told a news conference. “The government does not intend bypassing them.”

Drafting of the new constitution will be a “more open process” with the involvement of all 225 members of parliament along with public participation with the debate open to the public and broadcast on state television, he said.

The government wants to encourage civic action interest groups, such as those who want to make health a fundamental right, to mount their campaigns and influence the constitution-making process, Wickramaratne said.

He said Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has appointed a 24-member committee consisting of representatives of political parties and civil society groups to seek public opinion on the proposed constitutional reforms.

“On January 9, 2016, a committee of the whole House which we call a constitutional assembly will be formed,” he said.

“This House committee has no power to adopt a new constitution – it can only draft a new one. Then the Cabinet of ministers will certify it as a bill needing a two-thirds majority in parliament and approval of the people at a referendum.”
(Colombo/December 30, 2015)
 

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