Sri Lanka’s top political leaders on Friday agreed on some of the provisions of the controversial 21st Amendment to the Constitution aimed at empowering Parliament over the executive president during the second round of meeting with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe’s office said a general consensus was reached between parties on some of the proposed provisions. However, the main Opposition SJB had held that the Supreme Court’s determination on their version of the 21A must be awaited before the final draft could be agreed upon.
The 21st Amendment is expected to annul the 20A to the Constitution, which gives unfettered powers to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa after abolishing the 19th Amendment that will strengthen Parliament.
The island nation’s Parliament is to win back some powers of the president while depoliticising the key institutions.
The main opposition SJB insists that the 21A must restrict the president from holding any ministry.
On May 27, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe met political party leaders and discussed the draft 21st Amendment. The purpose of the meeting was to allow the party leaders to present their observations regarding the draft Amendment.
However, the final meeting was scheduled for this Friday as the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), the main Tamil party, did not attend the meeting.
“The second round of discussions with the Party Leaders was convened today and a general consensus was reached regarding the 21st Amendment. However, the amendment may be subject to revisions based on the Supreme Court determination regarding the SJB constitutional amendment,” Wickremesinghe tweeted after the meeting.
The key constitutional reform was a major plank of the agreement between Rajapaksa and Wickremesinghe when he took over the job of the prime minister on May 12. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had also pledged reforms in the Constitution in an address to the nation last month.
Wickremesinghe has batted for the 21st Amendment to the Constitution, saying it will curb the President’s unlimited powers while enhancing the role of Parliament in governing the debt-ridden country which is also facing an unprecedented political turmoil.
Wickremesinghe said the 21st Amendment when approved by Parliament would help Sri Lanka in several ways.
He underlined the need to strengthen the existing laws to give more authority to Parliament in the exercise of monetary powers.
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, who replaced Mahinda Rajapaksa, the elder brother of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, hopes to adopt the 21A as part of his efforts to steer the country off the current economic crisis.