The United National Party (UNP) is in favour of abolishing the Executive Presidency, and the views of other parties in the United National Front (UNF) will be sought on this, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told the JVP yesterday.
The JVP MPs met Prime Minister and UNP Leader Wickremesinghe at the Parliamentary complex to discuss on the proposed 20th Amendment to the Constitution (20A) which seeks to abolish the Executive Presidency.
The JVP group comprised its Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake and MPs Vijitha Herath and Dr. Nalinda Jayatissa.
Minister Malik Samarawickrama attended with the Prime Minister. MP Vijitha Herath told journalists that the PM said that the UNP at its last party convention agreed in principle to abolish the Executive Presidency. “On our side, we requested UNP’s support to get the 20A passed with a two thirds majority.
“He agreed to discuss on this amendment with other party leaders of the UNF and inform us of the outcome,” MP Herath said.
The JVP also met former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and TNA Leader R. Sampanthan over the 20A.
Herath said the party will meet SLFP and SLMC representatives in the near future. “A final decision on the 20A Bill will be made within three weeks.
We take all our efforts in that regard. If it is to see the light of the day, it must be taken up before the next Presidential Elections to be held towards the end of this year,” Herath said.
The 20th Amendment was presented to Parliament by JVP MP Vijitha Herath on September 5, 2018. The Bill has also made provisions to prevent MP crossovers against the collective decision of the party. The Supreme Court (SC) ruled in October last year that 30 Articles out of the 38 Articles in the 20A need to be passed with a two thirds majority in Parliament and approved by the people at a referendum.
Under the proposed 20th Amendment, the President will be appointed by Parliament, instead of a Presidential Election.
The President will continue to be the Head of State and the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, but he will no longer be the Head of Government and the Head of Cabinet of Ministers. The proposed 20th Amendment will be implemented only after the current term of office of President Maithripala Sirisena.
As per the draft bill, the Head of Government and the Head of Cabinet of Ministers will be the Prime Minister. The President’s powers are distributed among the Cabinet, Prime Minister, Constitutional Council and independent commissions.
However, the President will continue to have the powers of appointing the Governors of Provinces as same as the 13th Amendment.
The President’s power to appoint Ambassadors and High Commissioners and grant pardons will be subject to cabinet approval as per the proposed amendment. It will also remove the President’s power to prorogue the parliament. The 20A also requires the President to seek the Cabinet approval when granting Presidential pardon.
The number of Presidential Staff should also be approved by the Cabinet. The President, once elected by Parliament, cannot hold any position or membership of a political party during his/her tenure.