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UNP to propose complete revamp Sri Lanka constitution at next election: Eran

COLOMBO (EconomyNext) – Sri Lanka’s ruling United National Party will propose a complete revamp of the constitution at the next general election, Deputy Investment Minister Eran Wickramaratne told parliament during a debate to amend the constitution.

Though President Maithripala Sirisena, backed by the United National Party promised to abolish the executive presidency within 100 days of coming to power, the Supreme Court watered down the proposals and asked for a referendum to slash presidential powers.

Wickramaratne said following the 19tn amendment, which will strengthen the independence of the public service, the UNP will propose a full revamp of the constitution in its election manifesto for upcoming general elections

"We will propose to make the next Parliament a constituent assembly and make this entire constitution a more democratic one in our election manifesto," he said.

"I think we should go further than this. In our discussions with the President he had also expressed the intention to make our constitution more democratic."

Constitutions were originally devised in the world were instruments of restraint on the rulers, so that the people will be free.

Two types of groups in society can take away the freedom from ordinary people, armed robbers or marauders and the ruling class elected or otherwise, backed by armed police and a standing army.

It is a constitution backed by an independent public service, headed by permanent secretaries who cannot be changed when administrations change like judges, that allow justice and freedom to the people as well as an overall understanding about freedom in the society itself.

The Presidential powers available in the existing constitution also allowed successive Presidents to undermine the independence of the judiciary itself.

Sri Lanka’s 1978 constitution, which increased the arbitrary powers of the rulers particularly the president, was contrary to very reason constitutions were devised in the world in the first place also set additional conditions such as a referendum to change some clauses.

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Usually a constitution is changed by a two thirds majority in parliament. A constituent assembly, or constitutional council is another method of changing the basic law of the country.

Sri Lanka’s 1972 constitution, which abolished a civil service commission, brought outsiders as secretaries of ministries thus ending the concept of permanent secretaries, accelerated Sri Lanka’s loss of individual freedoms and deterioration of rule of law in general, political analysts have said.

Sri Lanka’s opposition Sri Lanka Freedom Party and their allies have brought multiple objections to the 19th amendment and delayed its passage.

It is not clear whether agreement will be reached today. It is also not whether President Sirisena, will dissolve parliament quickly if the amendment is not passed Tuesday.

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