Opposition leader Ranil Wickckremasinghe yesterday launching a policy document for a new draft Constitution said that the Executive Presidency which has been “desecrated by the present regime” would be totally abolished, ensuring the sovereignty of the people, within six months of a future UNP government.
“We gave the sovereignty directly to the people for the first time from the Constitution in 1978 under J. R. Jayewardene. In that Constitution we gave the right of franchise and referendum, and fundamental human rights directly to the people. The rest of the power was devolved within the Judiciary, Executive and the Legislature. And through the 17th Amendment, powers of executive and state powers were reduced. But during the last decade the situation has completely changed. Through court orders and the 18th Amendment, the President has gone for a dictatorship and is heading for a monarchy,” Mr. Wickremesinghe said at a function at the Parliament complex yesterday.
The proposed draft Constitution included the main features such as restoration of the people’s sovereignty, abolishing the preferential voting system while elections for the Parliament and all Provincial Councils would be conducted on one and the same day. In the event of the Head of State also being elected that election would also be held on the same day.
It also called for the abolishment of the Executive Presidency. The current powers conferred on the Executive Presidency would be divided among the Head of State, the Prime Minister, and the Speaker’s Council.
The Cabinet of Ministers was proposed to be restricted to 25 including the Prime Minister. While Sri Lanka remains a Unitary State, powers would be genuinely devolved to Provincial Units considering several factors.
With regard to the Judiciary it said there would be an independent and separate Constitutional Court which would solely be responsible for the interpretation of the Constitution and the examination of the constitutionality of Bills and its decisions are final and conclusive.
An Independent Election Commission, Independent Police Commission, Independent Public Service Commission, Independent Judicial Service Commission and Independent Anti-Corruption Agency would be set-up as a matter of utmost priority to ensure good governance in the country.
The proposed Constitution would the ensure allocation of 25% women’s participation in Provincial Councils and Local Government Institutions.
Speaking at the launching of the draft Constitution Mr. Wickremesinghe said the proposed draft Constitution would be submitted for the approval of the people at a referendum within 6 months after the formation of a government by the United National Party and said this would be the first Constitution to be adopted by the people of this country.
UNP Parliamentarians, leaders of the political parties of the Vipakshaye Virodaya including Dr. Vickramabahu Karunaratna, Siritunga Jayasuriya and Sarath Manamendra, leaders of the FUTA and Ven. Dambara Amila also participated at the event. (Ajith Siriwardana)