By Saman Indrajith
No other head of state in the world had been flexible and willing to give away executive powers the way he did, President Maithripala Sirisena told Parliament yesterday.
Opening the debate on the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, the President urged all 225 legislators to seize the historic opportunity and vote for the bill as it was the wish of the majority of the people of the country.
“Don’t lose this opportunity to be a partner in this noble cause,” the President said.
He said that both he and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa who was his main opponent in the January president poll had pledged to scale down the excessive powers of the executive presidency.
“Bringing this Amendment to the House is a victory for the people of the country. It has the support of the 6. 2 million people who voted for me as well as the 5.8 million people who voted for Mahinda Rajapaksa,” he said.
He said that no other amendment had been spoken of and disputed over as much as the 19 Amendment.
“The issue of the Executive presidency is known by everyone in the country. Even schoolchildren know of the 19 Amendment and the executive presidency. The masses know of the importance of establishing independent commissions such as an independent police commission and an Elections commission. This is one of the most important amendments to the nation’s constitution” the President said.
“I am not talking about myself but I must note that I don’t think any leader who has wielded executive powers has worked as hard and as much as I have to abolish such powers. Other than the 13 and the 17 amendments to the Constitution, every other amendment has involved the powers of the executive presidency”.
The debate will continue into today and the Bill will be put to a vote at 6.00p.m.