19-A to be revived and measures taken to abolish the executive presidency
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in his address to the nation last night said he would soon appoint a new Prime Minister and Cabinet. A person who enjoys the confidence of the majority of parliamentarians as well as the people would be appointed prime minister, he said.
The President mentioned that a new Constitutional Amendment, containing the provisions of the 19th Amendment, would be introduced.
The 19th Amendment, passed in 2015, limited the power of the president. It was replaced by the 20th Amendment, which strengthened the powers of the president.
The president added that the new Prime Minister and the Cabinet could present a plan to bring stability.
“Some have called for the abolition of the executive presidency. I will also make room for this after discussing it with all stakeholders. The country is facing a serious crisis and I ask for your support to keep the state apparatus running,” President Rajapaksa said.
The president also said action would be taken against those who perpetrated violence that left nine people dead and 300 injured.
Text of the President’s speech: “Most Venerable Maha Sangha, Other Religious Dignitaries, Mothers and Fathers, Brothers and Sisters, Belovéd Children, Friends, Currently, our country is facing the worst crisis in its history. The economic crisis that preceded this event created social and political instability due to the difficulties encountered by the population.
“As a solution to these problems, a common proposal was put forward by different parties to form a new government with a majority of parties represented in parliament. In the past, I have had numerous discussions with leaders of various parties and groups in this regard. I, too, embraced this idea and made some hard and tough decisions to set the platform for this solution. When the last cabinet was replaced, a new cabinet was appointed consisting of young MPs, where a large number of former chief ministers, as well as Rajapaksas, were not appointed.
“Furthermore, the Prime Minister has resigned and an agreement has been reached to disband the entire Cabinet and make way for a new Prime Minister and a new Cabinet. But on Monday morning May 9, as you all know, a very unfortunate situation occurred.Based on this incident, riots broke out all over the country in a very short time.
“Even before the curfew was imposed and the three forces were deployed, this process took place in an organized manner across the country. Within hours, around nine people, including a deputy, were brutally beaten to death. About 300 were hospitalized. In addition, a large number of houses were burnt down. Looting began across the country.
“I strongly condemn without prejudice the original incident which led to these events. The IGP has been instructed to initiate an investigation into the incident. However, the series of killings, assaults, intimidation and destruction property that followed cannot be justified. Since the time this incident occurred, I have taken steps to control the situation in the country with the participation of the Secretary of Defense, the heads of the armed forces, the the Inspector General of Police, Chiefs of Intelligence and the Security Council.. At this point, the government’s primary responsibility is to ensure the safety of all citizens.
“Therefore, the three armed forces and the police have been ordered to strictly enforce the law against the rioters. Steps will be taken to strictly enforce the law against all those who planned, supported and promoted this incident. Therefore, I urge everyone to refrain from such acts of sabotage. I urge the responsible citizens of this country to look at the loss of life and property that has taken place thus far and to condemn the groups that continue to spread hatred.
“While working to ensure the security of the country, I will work with all party leaders to bring political stability to the country. I am taking steps to form a new government to control the current situation, to prevent the country from falling into anarchy as well as to maintain the government business that has been stopped. This week, I will appoint a Prime Minister who has a majority in Parliament and can guarantee the confidence of the people and a Cabinet of Ministers.
“Thereafter, I will take steps to amend the Constitution to reactivate the contents of the 19th Amendment to give more power to this Parliament. The new Prime Minister of the new government will have the opportunity to present a new program and to make advance the country.
Various factions have also called for the abolition of the presidential system. Once the new government has stabilized the country, there will be an opportunity to discuss with everyone and work on this. I ask for help in maintaining the state apparatus uninterrupted in order to protect people’s lives as well as their property and to provide essentials to the people without allowing the country to collapse at this critical time. Therefore, I urge all Sri Lankans to act with restraint and caution at this stage.