Colombo, May 27: The leaders of Sri Lanka’s political parties on Friday agreed to replace the 20 th. Amendment to the Sri Lankan constitution by the earlier 19 th. Amendment to reducing the powers of the Executive President and increase the powers of the parliament. Along with the 19A will also come the Independent Commissions to direct and watch over various areas of government.
A press release from the Prime Ministers’ office said that the party leaders agreed to enact the 21A as soon as possible after further discussions.
The leaders will then discuss the proposal to abolish the Executive Presidency itself. They will also discuss whether or not the President can retain the Defense portfolio. As per the 19 th.Amendment of 2015, the President could not take any ministerial portfolio, though, as an exception and on a one-time basis, the then President, Maithripala Sirisena, was allowed to retrain the defense portfolio and also take the Environment portfolio.
Sources said that the party leaders did not mention the controversial issue of dual citizens fighting elections for the Sri Lankan parliament and becoming ministers. This is an important issue for the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) because its main organizer, former Finance Minister and current MP, Basil Rajapaksa, is a US-Sri Lankan citizen. So are other MPs like Dullas Alahaperuma and Mahinda Samarasinghe.
Political sources said that there is a possibility that those who are opposed to the ban on dual citizens will try to get it deleted when the amendment is discussed clause by clause in parliament during the committee stage. It would all depend on the number of MPs backing them. The minimum is 75.
However, allowing dual citizens to be members of parliament and of the council of ministers, is disfavored by the public, especially at this time, when there is an anti-Rajapaksa feeling in the country. It is felt that many SLPP MPs might shelve the issue and go along with the general mood against accommodating dual citizens.