Exclusive: New Amendment proposed to address political crisis

Prez to be empowered to remove PM, cabinet among far reaching proposals 

By Shamindra Ferdinando
Amidst Sri Lanka’s worst ever political and economic crises that triggered a spate of protests,

two of Sri Lanka’s eminent lawyers, Romesh de Silva, PC and Manohara de Silva, PC, have urged

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to bring in an urgent amendment to the Constitution to address the issues at hand.

Romesh de Silva led the nine-member expert team that recently finalized a draft Constitution as requested by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on behalf of the government.

They have advised the President  that it wouldn’t be possible to form a cabinet representing all political parties represented in Parliament under the present Constitution without a fresh amendment.

They have also submitted the proposed amendment to the leader of the main Opposition Party, the  Samagi Jana Balvegaya (SJB), who is also the Leader of the Opposition.

Well-informed sources said that urgent action was required to address the political and economic crisis.

The success on the current efforts to save the national economy could go awry unless the President and all political parties represented in Parliament take tangible measures to restore political stability, the two legal experys have pointed out.

Sources pointed out that the President hadn’t been able to finalize the cabinet nearly a week after members of the cabinet except Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned. Sources said that the President and the Opposition Leader could make an effort to reach a consensus with their respective parties.

The text of the proposed AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION

The following Article to be inserted after Article 44 and shall be numbered as Article 44A

(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Constitution, the President may in extraordinary and special circumstances –

(a) Remove from office the Prime Minister and members of the Cabinet of Ministers

(b) Appoint a Prime Minister in accordance with paragraph (3) of Article 43 subject to the approval of Parliament.

(c) Appoint a Cabinet of Ministers consisting of not more than fifteen Ministers who –

Have the expertise in the subject and function assigned to him under sub paragraph (d)and,
are not Members of Parliament or of any political party :

Provided that, the appointment of each of the members of the Cabinet of Ministers is approved by Parliament:

Provided further that the Appointment of each of such members is approved by the majority of the members of Parliament who are not members of the party of which the Prime Minister is a member

(d)  Assign subjects and functions to such Minister, provided that such Minister has the expertise in any such subject and is capable of performing the functions so assigned.

(2)The Cabinet of Ministers appointed under paragraph (1) shall function for a period of one year and may be reappointed until the next Parliamentary election is concluded, subject to the approval of Parliament

Sources said that if accepted, provision would have to be made to compel Ministers to attend Parliament to answer questions regarding his/her Ministry. Romesh de Silva and Manohara de Silva have informed the President in the wake of controversy over Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa not being present in Parliament to answer questions regarding the financial crisis.

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