Published : 9:00 am  November 19, 2015 | No comments so far |  |  (495) reads | 

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The Cabinet yesterday gave approval to a memo presented by President Maithripala Sirisena to abolish the Executive Presidency and to introduce new electoral reforms to do away with the much criticised Proportional Representative (PR) system, a Cabinet Minister said yesterday.

Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Minister Mahinda Amaraweera told the media at the SLFP head office that the two constitutional arrangements got the SLFP Central Committee’s unanimous nod the previous day when it met President Sirisena. Minister Amaraweera said Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was tasked to submit a report in two weeks on the two issues and both constitutional reforms would be in the Statute book in the first half of 2016.

“The government is also contemplating to introduce a fully fledged Constitution and all these constitutional arrangements need to be pushed forward in one go. To do that the Parliament will meet as a Constitutional Assembly to do the job,” he added. Responding to a journalist, Minister Amaraweera said the SLFP under President Sirisena was attempting to bring under its wings several other political parties not aligned with the UPFA.

He, however, said the National Freedom Front (NFF) led by Parliamentarian Wimal Weerawansa or Nava Sihala Urumaya (NSU) led by Parliamentarian Udaya Gammanpila were not in the list. “There is no split or two or more factions whatsoever in the SLFP. The party is strong and healthy under President Sirisena and our immediate target is to achieve a resounding victory at the local government polls expected in March,” Minister Amaraweera added.

Exe. Presidency abolitionafter MS’s term ends


Binder1-388Minister Mangala Samaraweera said yesterday that the abolition of the executive presidency would come into effect at the completion of the tenure of President Sirisena.

Mr. Samaraweera said President Maithripala Sirisena himself had submitted a cabinet paper to abolish all the executive powers vested in him and to assign them to parliament. “Soon after the election, the president took action to abolish those executive powers that could be abolished without a referendum . Now he has himself submitted a Cabinet paper to abolish them completely. He made a brave decision to contest the presidential election at the risk of his life.

We have to remember that,’ he said. He admitted that there had been few shortcomings under this government during the last eight months, including the attack on the university students’ protest march. He said they would not obstruct freedom of expression and that it was a democratic right to protest and point out the shortcomings of the government. “Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe immediately called for the rectification of the mistake. There may be some policemen who still have the mindset they had under previous regime,” he said. Mr. Samaraweera said the government had ensured there was democracy and freedom of expression where anyone


could criticise the government, and even ministers within the government expressed their opinions freely as never before. “Law and Order Minister Thilak Marapana who was an honest minister resigned from his post even though he had done nothing wrong to avoid embarrassment to the government. A minister’s resignation in this manner last took place 28 years ago,” he said. The minister said at a media briefing that certain ministers were claiming that the government was going to fall and that they had been able to say so because democracy prevailed in the country.

He said the big issue that concerned the people today was why the politicians who had plundered the resources of the country were still at large. “We cannot arrest them like pickpockets. These are not small scale frauds but frauds and corruption at the international level. It will take about three years to nab these people.Untitled-4

About 725 such complaints are being investigated at present — and the Rajapaksas are directly involved in 25 of them,” he said. Responding to a question, he said the government was considering the possibility of providing some legal relief to Kumar Gunaratnam who was in prison. He said according to the law he should not have stayed on in the country.