President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe with Speaker Karu Jayasuriya and Speakers of India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Afghanistan with senior parliamentary staff at yesterday’s proceedings held to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Parliament Democracy in Sri Lanka. Pictures by Sudath Silva

President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday said the new Constitution which aims at uniting the country, will further strengthen Parliament.

“We expect to fulfill the hopes for a new Constitution, which will not divide the country but unite the nation and cater to all needs of the public”, the President said joining in the vote of commemorating the 70th anniversary of Parliament Democracy in Sri Lanka yesterday.

The President stressed that the government’s intention is to further strengthen Parliament and support all political parties required to make this aim a reality.

“We will continue to strengthen Parliament.Our intention is to further strengthen this House and we expect the support of all political parties, President Sirisena said.

He said this in Parliament joining in the vote of commemorating 70th anniversary of Parliament Democracy in Sri Lanka which was moved by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

President Sirisena said as in the past, SAARC will help strengthen regional cooperation in the future as well. He added that all should sacrifice to maintain cordial trade relations with SAARC countries, establishing democracy in SAARC countries, using technological advancement and to create a civilised society.

Expressing his joy at this significant juncture when Parliament celebrates 70 years of establishing Parliamentary democracy, he appreciated the presence of the Speakers of the SAARC countries who had accepted the government’s invitation and attended this historic event. He said their presence strengthens relationships in the SAARC region.

“The past seven decades were important for our country. As a result of the recommendations of the Soulbury Commission and the Soulbury Constitution we were able to establish Parliament for the first time. All previous governments should be commended for having taken measures to establish democracy. The 1972 Constitution changed the we Governed the country. A new Constitution was established in 1978. Creation of the Executive President with unlimited powers and authority deteriorated or deduced the powers of the Parliament to a certain extent. The 18th amendment to the Constitution placed Parliament in a very difficult situation. But the current Government, which came into power on January 8, 2015 to repeal the 18th with the 19th amendment to the Constitution has been able to strengthen Parliament,” the President added. He also made special note of all past leaders who had contributed in establishing democracy within the country as well as from abroad including D.S. Senanayake, S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, Sirimavo Bandaranaike, Dudley Senanayake, J.R. Jayewardene, Ranasinghe Premadasa, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, D.B. Wijethunga and Mahinda Rajapaksa.

“We have gained immense experience in developing the nation. It is our responsibility. The executive, judiciary and the legislature should work in ways that will not create frictions but to uphold supremacy of Parliament. I strongly reiterate that it is necessary to act in a way that it will not tarnish the country’s democracy. Fundamental rights, human rights, democracy should all be established. Economic prosperity should also be established. The rule of law has to be established and it is of vital importance that the independent judiciary is required,” noted the President during his address. 

President Maithripala Sirisena addressing Parliament. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe looks on.

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe welcoming President Maithripala Sirisena.

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