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Sunday, 10 January 2016

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Stiff opposition to Constitutional Assembly

Present a draft of the proposed constitution to the people:

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 Handunnetti

The 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 current Constitution.

"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 - Dinesh Gunawardena

At 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 changes.

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

UPFA 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.

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