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Rajapaksa, Ranil agree on system of executive PM

[Express Buzz, Wednesday, 14 July 2010 10:17 No Comment]

Sri Lanka’s two main political groups, the ruling People’s Alliance (PA) and the opposition United National Party(UNP) have agreed to change the constitution to replace the present executive presidential system by a parliamentary system, wherein, the powers will be vested in an Executive Prime Minister who will be responsible to Parliament.

The decision was taken here at the second meeting on constitutional reform between President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Leader of the Opposition, Ranil Wickremesihnghe, on Monday. Both leaders were assisted by their senior colleagues.

Sri Lanka was a parliamentary democracy like India till 1978, when the controversial Executive Presidency vested with enormous powers was introduced. The Executive President is elected directly and enjoys great independent powers. He is also not answerable to Parliament.

The only constraints on him are that he has to go to Parliament to get laws and statutes passed and to get money to run the government through the annual budget. Earlier, in the 1990s, President Chandrika Kumaratunga had tried to replace the system, but had failed.

2007 PROPOSAL: Rajapaksa recalled that in 2007, his own party, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) had made a plea for a reversal to the parliamentary system in its proposal to the allparty conference on constitutional reform.

AGREEMENT ON 17TH AMENDMENT: Rajapaksa and Wickremesinghe also agreed to empower the statutory bodies as per the 17th Amendment to the Constitution.

They accepted that officials appointed to these statutory bodies should be responsible to the cabinet of ministers. Rajapaska’s agreeing to empower the officials in these bodies is a major step forward.

WATCH WORD IS CAUTION: Since constitutional reform has always been a very tricky affair, both sides wanted to be cautious. They agreed to start off with reform of elections to the local bodies. The government is keen that there should be a mix of two systems, the Proportional Representation System (PRS) and the First Past the Post System (FPPS).

[Full Coverage]

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