Ten-week deadline for first phase
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday presented a historic
Resolution at a specially convened parliamentary session officially
commencing the process to formulate a new constitution.
The Resolution presented in Parliament aimed at converting Parliament
into a Constitutional Assembly to make the third Republican Constitution
of Sri Lanka. The Constitutional Assembly once formulated will be
chaired by the Speaker and will consist of all the Members of the
He said since independence, the Sri Lankan constitutions have not
focused on unifying different ethnic communities in the country and the
new constitution will be aimed at providing a constitutional resolution
to the national issue.
Outlining the aims of the government, the Premier said the new
constitution will guarantee the fundamental rights of people and freedom
that assure human dignity and promote responsible and accountable
The Resolution also proposed the creation of a steering committee of
17 members headed by the Prime Minister, to assist the Constitutional
Assembly to deliberate and seek the views and advice of the people for a
draft Constitution Bill and was seconded by Leader of the House Lakshman
According to the Resolution sub committees comprising not more than
11 members will be appointed to report to the steering committee. The
sub committees are required to submit their reports within ten weeks of
The Prime Minister reading out the Resolution, prior to a special
address by President Maithripala Sirisena, said the draft constitution
will require a two-thirds majority in Parliament. Subsequently, in terms
of Article 85(1) of the Constitution, the President will call for a
referendum on the Draft seeking people's approval.
The Premier assured Parliament that the constitutional making process
will be done with the contribution of local experts without seeking the
advice of the foreign experts.
The new constitution that is to be drafted by the Constitutional
Assembly will focus on abolishing the executive presidency and
formulating a electoral system to do away with the present preferential
vote system, the Premier added.
The Resolution will be debated in Parliament on Tuesday after
considering the amendments proposed by the opposition parties including
the JVP and the MEP.
The key provisions of the proposed Resolution
1.There shall be a Committee of Parliament hereafter referred to as
the 'Constitutional Assembly' which shall consist of all Members of
Parliament, for the purpose of deliberating and seeking the views and
advice of the People, on a new Constitution for Sri Lanka, and preparing
a draft of a Constitution Bill for the consideration of Parliament in
the exercise of its powers under Article 75 of the Constitution.
2.The Speaker of Parliament shall be the Chairman of the
Constitutional Assembly. There shall be seven Deputy Chairmen of the
Constitutional Asembly, who shall be elected by the Constitutional
In the Absence of the Speaker, the Constitutional Assembly shall
elect one of the Deputy Chairmen to chair the sittings of the Assembly.
3. The quorum for meetings of the Constitutional Assembly shall be
4. There shall be-
(a) Constitutional Advisors to the Constitutional Assembly;
(b) A Legal Secretary to the Constitutional Assembly and assistants
to such Legal Secretary;
(c) Staff for the purpose of recording the proceedings of the
Constitutional Assembly and the Committees referred to in Clause 5; and
(d) Media (including Social Media) Staff of the Constitutional
The Media Staff shall set up and maintain a website and use other
appropriate media, towards giving due publicity to the process for the
adoption of a new Constitution for Sri Lanka.
The Media Staff shall ensure that the proceedings of the
Assembly and its Committees, as well as public representations /
submissions are documented and published on such website along with such
other relevant expert or technical opinions.
5. There shall be the following Sub-Committees of the Constitutional
(a) A Steering Committee consisting of the Prime Minister (Chairman),
Leader of the House of Parliament, Leader of the Opposition, the
Minister of Justice, and not more than seventeen (17) other Members of
the Constitutional Assembly to be appointed by the Constitutional
The Steering Committee shall be responsible for the business of the
Constitutional Assembly and for preparing a Draft of a new Constitution
for Sri Lanka.
(b) Such other Sub-Committees, consisting of Members of the
Constitutional Assembly, which may be appointed by the Constitutional
Assembly. Provided that each such Sub-Committee shall comprise of not
more than eleven (11) Members.
The Chairman of each Sub-Committee shall be appointed by the Steering
6. The Constitutional Assembly shall at its first sitting-
(a) elect the Deputy Chairmen;
(b) determine the Sub-Committees referred to in Clause 5(b); and
(c) elect Members to the Sub-Committees referred to in Clause 5.
7. The Prime Minister shall, at the first meeting of the
Constitutional Assembly, present a Resolution for adoption by the
Constitutional Assembly, calling upon the Steering Committee to present
a Resolution proposing a Draft Constitution for the consideration of the
Constitutional Assembly, prior to its submission to the Cabinet of
Ministers and Parliament.
8. The Constitutional Assembly is hereby authorised to conduct its
sittings in the
Chamber of Parliament, Provided that the Constitutional Assembly may
resolve to sit at any other specified location outside the Western
10. The Steering Committee may appoint other experts to aid and
advise the Constitutional Assembly and / or its various Sub-Committees.
11. The proceedings of the Constitutional Assembly shall be open to
the public. The proceedings of the Constitutional Assembly and its
Sub-Committees shall be documented and published forthwith. Where
appropriate, the Constitutional
Assembly shall take steps to ensure the broadcast of the proceedings
of the Constitutional Assembly and / or its Sub-Committees.
22.If two-thirds of the Constitutional Assembly does not approve the
resolution on the Draft Constitution, the Constitutional Assembly and
the Committees referred to in this Resolution shall stand dissolved.
23. If the Constitutional Assembly approves the Resolution on the
Draft Constitution by a two-thirds majority, the Report and the Draft
Constitution shall be submitted by the Steering Committee to the Cabinet
of Ministers, and thereupon the Constitutional Assembly and the
Sub-Committees referred to in this Resolution shall stand dissolved.
24. The Cabinet of Ministers shall certify the Bill contained in such
Report as a Bill to repeal and replace the Constitution as a whole in
terms of Article 75(b) and Article 120(b) of the Constitution and that
such Bill is intended to be passed with the special majority required by
Article 83 of the Constitution and submitted to the People by