Thursday, Jun 30, 2022
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Sri Lanka: Opposition Targets PM Ranil Wickremesinghe, Says Not Qualified To Hold Post

Sri Lanka: PM Ranil Wickremesinghe, who lost in Colombo in the 2020 parliamentary elections and whose United National Party (UNP) could not win even a single seat in that election, was appointed as Sri Lanka's 26th prime minister earlier this month.

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Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.(File photo) AP

Ranil Wickremesinghe is not qualified to hold the post of Prime Minister as he has been rejected by the people in the elections in 2020, Sri Lanka's Opposition party JVP said on Friday.

The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, which did not participate in the discussion chaired by the Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, presented a series of proposals for Constitutional amendments.

JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake said that through this amendment, more powers will be assigned to the Prime Minister while the powers of the Executive Presidency will be vested in various structures.

Therefore, Dissnayake emphasised that Wickremesinghe is not qualified to hold the post of Prime Minister with such special and additional as he is a Prime Minister who has been rejected by the people.

The JVP has presented a proposal to allow interim provisions to be brought in as a constitutional proposal, in order to shorten the term of the current Parliament, limited to a period of two to three years, after which the people will have an opportunity to elect a new Parliament and a Prime Minister through a Parliamentary election after the term of this Parliament expires.

Afterwards, Dissanayake said, it will be up to the Prime Minister and Parliament to take up the powers of the 21st Amendment.

“A Prime Minister who has just been given the post out of merit has no right to exercise the powers vested in him by the 21st Amendment,” he added.

Wickremesinghe, who lost in Colombo in the 2020 parliamentary elections and whose United National Party (UNP) could not win even a single seat in that election, was appointed as Sri Lanka's 26th prime minister earlier this month, after Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned after violence erupted following an attack on the anti-government protesters by his supporters.
Furthermore, Dissanayake emphasised that the power of the President to pardon should be limited, and the President should not have the opportunity to hold ministries.

"Dual citizens should be barred from holding other important Government posts. Secretaries to Ministries should be appointed through the Constitutional Council, while the Bribery Commission and the Criminal Investigation Department should be empowered to inspect the assets of the people’s representatives based on their declarations of assets and liabilities and related complaints," he added, further presenting the JVP proposals for the 21st Amendment.

The 21st Amendment is expected to annul the 20A which gave unlimited powers to President Rajapaksa after abolishing the 19th amendment which had made Parliament powerful over the president.

The constitutional reform was a major plank of the agreement between President Rajapaksa and Wickremesinghe when he took over the job of the prime minister on May 12. Rajapaksa had also pledged reforms in the Constitution in an address to the nation earlier this month. '

If the 21A is approved by the party leaders in the meeting, even with the changes they propose, it will be presented to the Cabinet again. Once approved by the Cabinet of ministers, it will then be presented to Parliament for a vote.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe is already in discussions with all party leaders to keep the two clauses on reducing the President's powers and the dual citizenship clause in order to minimise the Rajapaksas representation in the government. 

(With PTI inputs)

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