Stiff opposition to Constitutional Assembly
Present a draft of the proposed constitution to the
Procedure is legally wrong:
Awaiting government response:
The decision to transform Parliament into a Constitutional Assembly
is facing stiff opposition from certain political parties. They demand
the government should respect the people's verdict.
Reveal proposed constitutional changes to the public - Sunil
JVP, being among the key parties opposing the idea, demands that the
government should reveal the proposed changes to the constitution to the
public, before forming a Constitutional Assembly. The JVP has
vociferously opposed the move, and held press conferences during the
past week, following the announcement to transform Parliament into a
Constitutional Assembly to draft a new Constitution.
"We are not against a Constitutional Assembly but the government must
make the public aware of the changes they hope to make in the
Constitution," JVP Parliamentarian Sunil Handunnetti told the Sunday
Observer. Handunnetti said the draft of the new constitution, must be
seen by the public before prioritising the conditions stipulated in the
"The government is talking about a major process and a significant
change without indicating what the changes are but setting the criteria
for change. This is not logical.
The changes need to be clearly stated, irrespective of whether the
public or other political parties agree to it or not," said Handunnetti.
All parties and every citizen may not fully agree to changes but the
public has the right to know the true picture, he said.
No provision in the Constitution for Constitutional Assembly -
a recent press conference held by the Joint Opposition opposed the
setting up of a Constitutional Assembly, Leader Dinesh Gunawardena said
there was no provision in the Constitution to set up a Constitutional
Assembly through a motion in Parliament.
However, he said the Joint Opposition was not against constitutional
Deviating from procedure to bring in any constitutional change was
legally wrong, he said. The Joint Opposition pointed out the government
should follow the correct procedure when making these historic changes.
Opposed to withholding Standing Orders - Udaya Gammanpila
parliamentarian Udaya Gammanpila said they were opposed to withholding
Standing Orders. "We are not against transforming Parliament into a
Constitutional Assembly but do not agree to withholding Standing
Orders," MP Gammanpila said.
"We met President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil
Wickremesinghe to express concern about the setting up of a
Constitutional Assembly. It was a cordial discussion and we hope for a
reasonable outcome," he said.
It will be unethical, to alienate the rights of Parliament to any
other body and therefore, there was a need to consider major changes.
"The due process in the Standing Orders should not be lost," he said.
He pointed out that although the Government plans to present the Bill
prior to a referendum, according to Article 83 of the Constitution, each
of the entrenched Articles to be amended should be put forward to the
public for approval.
He emphasised that if the Government was taking steps to make major
changes in the constitution, they should be presented to the public
without projecting it in a package.
"We are yet to resolve this matter. Our support for a Constitutional
Assembly will depend on the government's response," he said.