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Sunday, 22 November 2015

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Draft Constitution to scrap Executive Presidency

by Manjula Fernando

Parliament is expected to sit as a committee to evolve a consensus document for a Draft Constitution to scrap the Executive Presidency. This is being done on the initiative of President Maithripala Sirisena, authoritative sources told the Sunday Observer yesterday.

Sources said three options will be considered, in appointing the Constitutional Committee. The options are; MPs to meet as a Constitutional Assembly, appoint a Parliamentary Select Committee or sit as a Committee. The last option is expected to be adopted by consensus.

"A select committee of Parliament may not be the best option as the process is not transparent," sources explained adding, "The new Constitution needs a two-thirds majority in Parliament."

Sources said the Cabinet sub-committee chaired by Prime Minster Ranil Wickremesinghe will weigh all the options in consultation with party leaders and a decision will be reached within the next two weeks as to the structure of the Constitutional Committee.

Meanwhile, an expert committee chaired by Dr. Jayampathy Wickremaratne has been appointed to advise the Constitutional Committee. It comprises legal academics, senior lawyers, political scientists and administrators.

The advisory committee held its first meeting at the Prime Minster's office last week.

The Cabinet on Wednesday approved the abolition of the Executive Presidency while naming members for a special sub-committee chaired by Prime Minister Wickremesinghe to discuss the modalities. The sub-committee is required to submit a report to Cabinet within two weeks.

The Cabinet paper to scrap executive powers and bring in a new electoral system was submitted by President Maithripala Sirisena on Wednesday.

The Cabinet sub-committee comprises Ministers Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, D.M.Swaminathan, Nimal Siripala De Silva, Susil Premajayantha, Lakshman Kiriella, Malik Samarawickrema, Rauff Hakeem, Rishad Bathiutheen, Patali Champika Ranawaka and Mano Ganeshan.

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