By Saman Indrajith
Poor attendance at the Constitutional Assembly (CA) meeting was noted yesterday with only 56 MPs being present when Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe presented reports pertaining to constitutional reforms.
The CA met, at 10.00 am at the Parliament chamber after a lapse of over a year. The meeting was convened to table five reports pertaining to the constitution making process following deliberations at the Steering Committee headed by Prime Minister Wickremesinghe.
Only 28 government MPs, 17 UPFA, nine TNA and two JVP MPs were present at the commencement of the meeting. The number of Government members increased to about 47 during the course of the debate. The CA comprises 220 MPs. The five parliamentarians of the National Freedom Front, led by Wimal Weerawansa decided to leave the CA in 2017.
With nearly two thirds of the MPs not being present, many benches were deserted throughout the CA debate yesterday.
The CA was formed following a resolution passed unanimously in Parliament in March, 2016 to formulate a new Constitution. Initially,all 225 MPs were members of it and its first sitting was held on April 5, 2016. During its first sitting a 21-member Steering Committee was appointed to deal with the core issues relating to the Constitution.
Six sub-committees were appointed by the CA on “fundamental rights, Judiciary, finance, public service, law and order, centre-periphery” and their reports were placed before the CA by the Prime Minister on November 19, 2016.
The Steering Committee presented an interim report on September 21, 2017. The CA held an extensive five-day debate on the interim report and sub-committee reports. The CA last met on November 8, 2017.