The Promise Of Constitutional Reform

The government maintains that there is no consensus reached even among the parties who have come to form the coalition to support the opposition common candidate Maithripala Sirisena on the proposed Constitutional reforms. However, the parties who have come together to support the common candidate say that the abolition of the executive presidency is one of the long standing demands of the people and there will be a people’s movement to ensure that necessary constitutional changes will be done following the election.

Speaking to The Sunday Leader, several political parties including the government expressed their views regarding the matter.



There needs to be an intervention of the masses
Dr Wickramabahu Karunaratne – Leader, New Left Front

They have made promises and signed agreements with various parties claiming that the abolition of the executive presidency and re-enacting the 17th Amendment. Now we are campaigning for that. The building of the masses to this campaign continues.

The mass agitation should continue even after the election to remind them of the promises and push them to do as they promised. There might also be other forces after the election that might cross over, get into the parliament and press against the promised changes.

Therefore, we need to continue mass mobilization and keep the slogan ready to carry out even after the election. In addition, there are people’s committees formed at different areas at different levels coming together to support the common stand.

It is a positive aspect. But they need to be explained about the need to be ready to continue campaigning after the election until the promised changes are done. People have to campaign to make them do the changes and there needs to be an intervention of the mass. They have to work after the election.




We Have More Pressing Things To Worry About
Mano Ganesan – DFP Leader

The difference this time is the combination of the forces and the circumstances. President Mahinda Rajapaksa made such assurances in writing with JVP and JHU in year 2005. Today, you face a different scenario. The circumstance of the war is no more. And the combination of forces are very vast and very straight.

Abolishing the executive presidency, repealing 18A and bring-in the 17A are the three prime subjects listed for President Maithripala Sirisena. Abolishment comes first in the list.  He will finish this and seek the formation of a new government through the general elections.

The consideration for a national government is there provided you have the consensus in the current parliament. But all these will come after the first 100 days or even less during which the abolishment of the executive presidency will be completed. We have different views as parties on various subjects in the country. It is natural. DPF considers the solution to the national question as our priority number one. But we have to move forward with others. Therefore we are not bringing it now.

We will restore democracy first and then move forward with consensus. Here we have arrived at a common minimum program. The government sensing its defeat and fall is exaggerating small issues. We have a list of issues and names on which the government partners have different views. But we have more pressing things to worry about.




Time Periods Not Important To Us
Sunil Handunnetti – JVP MP

In an election, contestants give various promises to the people. We know that in previous elections all of them used the abolition of the executive presidency as election propaganda to come to power.

In 1994, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga promised to abolish the executive presidency within a year.

Mahinda Rajapaksa also promised in writing that he would abolish the executive presidency within his first term of presidency. It has becomes a tradition to make such promises.

Everybody now has come to some understanding that executive presidency needs to be abolished, 18th Amendment should be repealed, 17th Amendment should be brought in and electoral system needs to be changed.

Therefore, rather than promises on a piece of paper, there needs to be a people’s movement to put pressure to see the promised changes are being done. Anybody who comes to power may want to enjoy those privileges but people need to put pressure.

Time periods are not important to us. Even though we do not contest as a party, we are building awareness among people for a people’s movement. We are taking this idea to the society.

We do not want people to be mere spectators but be empowered for required changes and push the ones who come to power to execute the promised changes starting soon after the election.




People Have To Decide Whether To Concentrate Power
Lakshman Kiriella – UNP MP

Mahinda Rajapaksa promised to abolish the executive presidency in 2005 and even in 2010 but he never did.

This time people will turn towards common candidate Maithripala Sirisena.

Anybody with common sense would see this. In politics people have to believe in what politicians say and take chances.

People first relied on Mahinda Rajapaksa but he continued to fail in keeping his promises.

No previous presidents under the executive presidency – Chandrika Bandaranaika Kumaratunga or J. R. Jayawardena – abused executive powers so much.

There is a lot of power concentred on one person and a single family rules in the country.

People have to now decide whether to concentrate power solely on one person or give it to 225 ministers of the parliament to take decisions collectively.



We Have To Rely On Those Promises
Nishantha Sri Warnasinghe – JHU

Presindet Mahinda Rajapaksa promised to make the required changes twice but failed to do so.

We cannot rely on somebody who has broken the promises twice already.

Therefore we had to sign an MOU with a new candidate who has pledged to make those changes.

With regard to constitutional changes, there are three matters that need attention within the first 100-day period.

Maithripala Sirisena has come to an agreement with us that the excessive executive powers will be taken off the presidency and make the president responsible for the parliament and come under the judiciary.

He will get to keep the post as the defence minister but will have to limit the ministerial positions that he holds.

He has also agreed to change the electoral system. We have to rely on those promises.




What Is This Change For?
Keheliya Rabmukwella - Minister, Govt Media Spokesman

The abolition of the executive presidency is a very difficult process – it is very difficult even if one wants to do so. Besides the common opposition candidate has signed various agreements with various people and has agreed upon various things. Some say the executive presidency will be abolished within 24 hours – some wants it to be abolished within 100 days, etc. There is no consensus even within the coalition formed to support the common candidate.

There is a total confusion which is exactly what these outside forces and Diaspora want. If he comes to power it will be a total chaotic situation. I do not think that people will allow that to happen. People are quite wise. People may have certain concerns over certain matters of the government but they will not allow any such confusion. Mahinda Rajapaksa ended the war, eradicated terrorism and brought political stability to the country. He has also taken a direction in which public can see development in terms of building roads, ports and airports. This is a clear direction towards a sustainable development. I do not think that people will jeopardize all this for a change. And what is this change for?


5 Comments for “The Promise Of Constitutional Reform”

  1. pls let the people know with facts and figuers the number of flights and passengers to mattala and the number of vessels that sails in and out of hambantota and the revenue that these huge projects bring into the country please

  2. Hadeniya

    There is very little being said about poverty and those who are barely able to survive in the country. What are the specific measures the two main candidates propose to deal with this. Those struggling to make a living are probably not giving much thought to constitutional changes, although these are important to a proper democracy.

    Can the two candidates declare in writing how they plan to address the challenges of poverty as well as making it possible for all people to live in peace and harmony.

  3. Nyroze Shariff

    In my opinion, In the event the opposition party wins, they should not celebrate the victory. As a sign of keeping up of the promise they should immediate working on the high prioritized agenda of promises so that people will believe and appreciate.
    This fact should be one of their election slogans.

  4. Hadeniya

    How long does it take your paper to moderate a comment?

  5. Media minister please do not mislead the people.srilankan are well educated than you. you are in Rajapaska family is not educated but ms chandraka bandranaka gave the chance without discuss the her party.opposotion comman member understand the mr Rajapaska govenment is adicator government,they deal with live and death.last eight years proved,some goons like mr GLPeries. Mr nimal sripala, and mr doulgas devadena . the time has to retire from politics,comman opposition agreed with many parties even with crossover from the government,and his cabinet are stupit.corruption ,scams , killing the people even now mr Rajapaska family is operation,election may turn into communal by the present government.warning for miniorities,

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