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Sri Lanka’s RTI, two-term limit on presidency to remain, reiterates Keheliya

ECONOMYNEXT – The Right to Information (RTI) act and the two five-year term limit imposed on the office of the president will remain as Sri Lanka’s new government is set to go for constitutional reforms, a spokesman said.

Minister Keheliya Rambukwella told a gathering in Harispaththuwa, Kandy, that the RTI act will be incorporated into the proposed 20th amendment to the constitution, which will effectively repeal the 19th amendment introduced by the previous government.

The minister, who is also co-cabinet spokesman of the new government, was reiterating remarks made at a hurriedly organised press conference held last week.

Speaking in Harispaththuwa, he said, 19th amendment was a barrier to the country’s development.

The amendment was passed in parliament with a two-thirds majority – supported by the then Joint Opposition led by current Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa – curtailing some powers of the executive president. It also introduced and empowered the national police commission, the human rights commission of Sri Lanka, the constitutional council and the national elections commission in an attempt to democratice Sri Lanka’s system of governance.

The 19th amendment also reestablished term limits to the presidency and banned foreign passport holders from being elected.

Though the constitutional amendment did not address a crisis involving ministry secretaries, the constitutional council and independent commissions improved appointments of judges, the police chief and some other officials, restoring partial independence to the public service.

The ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) came into power promising to repeal the 19th amendment.

Speaking in Harispaththuwa today, Rambukwella recalled that the 13th amendment to Sri Lanka’s constitution which created the provincial councils was formulated within a week and will therefore be subject to discussion in the current parliament in the coming days.

Rambukwella also said the Independent commissions established by the previous government failed to be independent and have violated basic principals.  Therefore, the government will make changes to the commissions in order to protect their independence with the upcoming constitutional reforms. (Colombo/ Aug 24/2020)

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