Is Sri Lanka ruling party divided over executive presidency?

(January 29, Colombo - Lanka PolitySri Lanka ruling party appears divided regarding abolition of executive presidency. The non-cabinet Media Minister Lakshman Yapa Abewardhana, a dissident of the opposition United National Party wants the support of the opposition to abolish the executive presidency. But the ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party secretary and Minister of Agriculture Maithripala Sirisena, a contender for the post of Prime Minister in a future government says that abolition of the executive presidency is non issue following the ruling party victory in the presidential.

The Sri Lankan government is government is prepared for a constitutional amendment, if the opposition extends assistance, Media Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena said.

Addressing a media briefing in Colombo today, the Minister said the government seeks the support of the opposition to change the constitution and requested the opposition to express their willingness to the government's proposal within the next week.

If the opposition does not agree, the government is prepared to dissolve the parliament and to seek a two thirds majority for a constitutional revision, he said.

One of the main constructional reforms demanded by the opposition is to abolish the executive presidency which requires two-third majority in the parliament. The other major issues are the current gargantuan cabinet, solution to the ethnic conflict and the appointment of commissions implemented by the 17th amendment. (http://www.colombopage.com/archive_10/Jan1264700846CH.html)

SLFP General Secretary Maithripala Sirisena, MP, yesterday said that the abolition of the Executive Presidency could no longer be an issue as the people had overwhelmingly rejected the joint Opposition’s vow to do away with the executive powers.

Responding to The Island query, at the first post-presidential poll press conference at the BMICH, the Agriculture Minister said that clipping the presidential wings had been the main campaign slogan of the UNP-JVP combine though they turned a blind eye to its appeal.

He said that in light of the extraordinary victory achieved by President Mahinda Rajapaksa at Tuesday’s poll, the abolition of the executive presidency could not be a panacea for all ills as claimed by the UNP-JVP combine. It was a mandate to continue with the existing presidential system of governance.

Sirisena, who is widely believed to be one of the ruling party politicians, who had been high on the LTTE hit list, emphasised that the war effort would have failed if the ‘enemy’ destabilised the country by manipulating the Parliament. Minister Sirisena said that he did not want to ridicule Parliament though it was no secret what was going on for some time.

He said that the President had effectively used executive powers to resist foreign intervention in support of the LTTE. (http://www.island.lk/2010/01/29/news1.html)

abolishing of the executive presidency was the major slogan of the opposition president candidate Sarath Fonseka who was defeated by a wide margin according to official presidential results.


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