By Saman Indrajith
The SLFP yesterday insisted that the executive presidency had to be retained if the unitary character of the state was to be safeguarded.
Addressing a press conference held in the Parliament complex, Transport and Civil Aviation Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva said a president with certain executive powers was essential for the stability of the country.
“It was proposed by the UNP at the Steering Committee meetings that the executive presidency be replaced by an executive prime minister. We cannot agree as we do not see that as a solution to the problem. We are firmly of the view that an executive President is essential for the stability of the country” the Minister said, expressing his party’s views on the recently released Interim report of the Steering Committee of the Constitutional Assembly.
De Silva said the SLFP had opposed the UNP’s proposal to have the President appointed by Parliament.
“In such a scenario the President may become answerable to Parliament and Parliament may have undue influence over the President. We are of the view that the President should be appointed by people directly so that he would be answerable to them.
The SLFP had proposed the Westminster system of appointing a Prime Minister, Minister de Silva said. “An MP most likely to command the confidence of the House should be appointed as the Prime Minister.”
The Minister said the establishment of a Senate had been proposed in the Steering committee and that the SLFP had suggested that two individuals from the Senate Council also be given ministerial portfolios.
“A senate should consist of 36 Local government representatives and 19 Members of Parliament. Only the SLFP suggested that two members of the Senate be also appointed as ministers, de Silva said. This will further help the devolution of power and strengthen democracy,” he said.
Ministers Dilan Perera and Dayasiri Jayasekera were also present at the media briefing.