Constitutional Assembly Steering Committee approves Interim Report on Constitutional Reform


After months of deliberations and contentious arguments in closed door meetings, the Steering Committee of the Constitutional Assembly last week approved the final copy of its Interim Report on Constitutional Reforms.

A member of the Steering Committee confirming that the report is ready for submission said the Constitutional Assembly has been summoned to meet on September 21 morning.

A copy of the report will be handed over to President Maithripala Sirisena.  

The interim report, which deals with the vital aspects of Constitutional reforms including the electoral reforms, devolution of power and nature of the State, spells out the contours of Constitutional Bill. 

The Interim Report will be tabled along with the observations made by various parties. Accordingly, the observations of the Joint Opposition, SLFP, TNA, JHU and JVP have been included into the report as annexes.

The report also consists of a separate collective document submitted by the Tamil Progressive Alliance (TPA), Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC) and Eelam People's Democratic Party (EPDP).

Constitutional Lawyer Dr Jayampathy Wickramaratne has submitted his own report.

The UNP has not made a separate submission as the party agrees with the report in its entirety.  

It was deduced that the observations made by various parties indicates contradictions and clashing views on core issues related to the Constitution.

While the SLFP has sought to retain the Executive Presidency, the JVP insists on its abolition. While the TNA is bent on a ‘federal’ solution within an ‘undivided and indivisible country’, the JO is adamant on preserving the clause on ‘unitary state’. 

“It is now time for hard bargaining. These views are not fixed positions. Nothing is cast in stone. The challenge is to hammer out an agreement cutting across all parties through compromise and negotiation,” the Steering Committee member said.

Sources said a date for the debate on interim report would be fixed after its submission and the Steering Committee headed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe would go ahead with drafting the Constitutional Bill based on the proposals and suggestions to be made at the debate. 

The Steering Committee which conducted its first meeting on April 5, 2016 has so far conducted over 70 meetings. The Constitutional Assembly formed following a resolution passed unanimously in Parliament in March last year has so far conducted four sittings. 

In the meantime, the reports of six sub-committees on “Fundamental Rights, Judiciary, Finance, Public Service, Law and Order, Centre-Periphery” were presented to the Constitutional Assembly by the Prime Minister on November 19.

A three-day debate on Constitutional reforms initially scheduled to commence from January 9 was postponed indefinitely as there was no consensus among the political parties.      

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