Sri Lanka’s PM says executive presidency will be abolished

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 07 April 2004, 21:19 GMT]
Sri Lanka’s newly appointed Prime Minister, Mr. Mahinda Rajapakse, said Wednesday that he would work to change the constitution and abolish the executive presidency within four months as promised in his party’s election manifesto, and that he would bring the President under parliament, sources in Colombo said.

Mr. Rajapakse made these comments while speaking to the Press after he met with the Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka, Mr. Nirupam Sen, the sources said.

The United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) made abolishing the executive presidency a key part of its manifesto in March 2004 and said, "The proposed constitution will strengthen democracy by abolishing the executive presidency and replacing it with a cabinet and parliamentary form of government.” The UPFA also said in its manifesto that there would be a referendum to ratify the new constitution.

Indeed, the current President, Ms. Chandrika Kumaratunge, had made similar pledges to abolish the executive presidency during her campaign for the presidency twice (1994, 1999), but no serious effort has been made so far to abolish the presidency.

Moreover, Sri Lanka’s constitution demands that such a measure be passed with a two-thirds majority in parliament before seeking ratification in a referendum. Given the divided nature of the parliament that resulted after the elections on April 2, political analysts from across the political spectrum are skeptical that the presidency will be abolished.


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