Colombo, January 11 (Daily Mirror): Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who is also the Chairman of the Steering Committee of the Constitution Assembly, on Friday presented the report prepared by the Experts Panel of the Steering Committee.
The report is based on the interim report, six sub-committee reports and the representations made by political parties on drafting a new Constitution.
“It is time for the Constitution Assembly to decide on the future course of action with regard to compiling a new constitution because the Steering Committee has completed its work,” the Prime Minister said. “The assembly can now decide on the future course of action as the Steering Committee has finished its work.”
Wickremesinghe said that the Constitutional Assembly could select points which all parties agreed on, and then prepare a draft based on consensus.
The Prime Minister ruled out the merger of the North and the East and the division of the country while highlighting Section 9 which ensured the foremost place to Buddhism.
Referring to a matter raised by Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa that the members of the assembly needed more time to study the reports presented yesterday, the Prime Minister said that could be debated on another date.
He said those who claimed that the country would be divided, the North and East will be merged and the foremost place assigned to Buddhism were going to be disappointed because none of these would be done.
Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa said today the government did not have the legitimacy to introduce a new constitution and urged it to go for a parliamentary election so that people’s approval could be obtained for such a move.
“There should be legitimacy prior to introducing a new constitution. We doubt if the present government has that legitimacy. They lost the local government elections and is delaying the provincial council elections. It even went to court to prevent a parliamentary election,” he told the Constitutional Assembly.
He proposed both parties should present their draft constitutions to the people at the n
SLFP leader Nimal Sripala de Silva’s View
UNP has acted in a cowardly manner when it comes to enacting a new constitution as it had avoided stating its stance on the report by the experts panel, MP Nimal Siripala de Silva said today.
He said this at the Constitutional Assembly and pointed out that the UNP had made the process of enacting a new constitution futile by avoiding stating its stance.
“UNP is using other parties such as the SLMC as a cat’s paw,” the MP said. “It is only UNP which has stated its stance when all the other parties have done so. How can we draft a constitution without getting to know the sentiments of all parties.”
He said the UNP was trying to play a political game and added that the executive presidency should be retained to prevent NGOs and foreign diplomats from taking control of Parliament.
Mr. Rajapaksa said the government should consider all shades of opinions and make public what they were going to do.
“One community cannot suppress another community. All communities should arrive at a consensus,” he said.