New amendment proposed by Romesh, Manohara not acceptable
By Shamindra Ferdinando
Former Central Bank Deputy Governor Dr WA Wijewardena yesterday (11) urged Sri Lanka’s embattled government Podjana Peramuna (SLPP) to restore political stability ahead of talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington or suffer the consequences.
Dr. Wijewardena said it when The Island asked for his opinion on the upcoming negotiations between Sri Lanka and the IMF which are due to start on April 18.
Dr Wijewardena, who resigned in 2009 after serving as deputy governor for nine years, said political stability here was a prerequisite for the Washington talks.
Political parties represented in parliament could not ignore the danger of sitting down for talks in Washington while a massive nationwide protest campaign was underway demanding the resignation of the president and the entire government.
Former Communist Party General Secretary DEW Gunasekera also warned that a protracted political dispute within the ruling coalition and another between the government and the opposition could undermine ongoing efforts to restore economic stability.
Stressing that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s offer to welcome opposition political parties into the cabinet in a bid to restore stability following the Mirihana violence had been rejected, the former minister said the SLPP was also in a much weaker position today.
Contrary to various reports in mainstream and social media, the government has been unable to finalize an interim cabinet with or without the opposition for more than a week, the PC veteran said, adding that the resignation of Ali Sabry, PC, one of four ministers were sworn in as ministers on April 04, but his decision to continue certainly did not help the government.
The government delegation to the talks with the IMF consisted of Finance Minister Ali Sabry, Treasury Secretary Mahinda Siriwardena and Central Bank Governor Nandalal Weerasinghe.
Former lawmaker Gunasekera said further delay in resolving the political crisis would cause irreparable damage to the national economy. Responding to another question, the veteran politician said the harassing forex crisis had turned into the worst situation ever with the toxic combination of financial, political and social crises overwhelming the country.
Meanwhile, Bar Association (BASL) President Saliya Peiris, PC said yesterday (11) that the BASL could not take a position on the proposed amendment to address the current issues.
The PC said so in response to The Island’s question whether the BASL would comment on the amendment proposed by two of Sri Lanka’s prominent lawyers, Romesh de Silva and Manohara de Silva, both members of the 09-member team that recently finalized the draft Constitution as requested. by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
The BASL leader said they could respond in the event the government made its position on the proposed amendment public.
The text of the proposed AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION
The following article is inserted after article 44 and bears article number 44A
(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Constitution, the President may, in extraordinary and special circumstances –
a) Remove from office the Prime Minister and members of the Cabinet of Ministers
(b) Appoint a Prime Minister in accordance with paragraph (3) of Article 43 subject to the approval of Parliament.
(c) Appoint a Cabinet of Ministers consisting of not more than fifteen Ministers who –
I. Have expertise in the subject matter and function assigned to him under sub-paragraph (d) and,
ii. are not members of Parliament or of a political party:
Subject to the appointment of each member of the Cabinet of Ministers being approved by Parliament:
Provided further that the appointment of each such member is approved by a majority of the members of Parliament who are not members of the party of which the Prime Minister is a member.
(d) Assign subjects and functions to such Minister, provided that such Minister has expertise in such subject and is capable of performing the functions so assigned.
(2) The Cabinet of Ministers appointed under subsection (1) shall serve for a period of one year and may be reappointed until the end of the next parliamentary election, subject to the approval of Parliament.
Manohara de Silva told The Island they did it as a citizens’ initiative in the public interest.
However, opposition political sources and other civil society sources explained that the proposal made by the two presidential councils is contrary to the ongoing campaign demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the removal of the President. entire Cabinet of Ministers. The proposed amendment was intended to further strengthen the executive presidency and was nothing more than a further boost to the dictatorial 20th Amendment enacted at the end of October 2020.
Top Samagi Jana Balavegaya spokesman Mujibur Rahuman said the vast majority of members of parliament now oppose 20A. Under no circumstances would they support an amendment intended to further consolidate executive powers in the context of the calamitous 20A, the Colombo District MP said.
Manohara de Silva said a copy of the proposed amendment was also submitted to the SJB and opposition leader Sajith Premadasa.
SLFP General Secretary Dayasiri Jayasekera recently told The Island that their party would under no circumstances support further consolidation of 20A. Instead, the SLFP felt that the 19th Amendment should be reinstated with amendments consistent with overall efforts to save the country from anarchy.