Bill to clip Sri Lankan presidential powers ready for debate
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — A bill to clip the presidency’s enormous powers is ready for debate in Sri Lanka’s Parliament as part of the democratic reforms promised by President Maithripala Sirisena on his way to being elected.
Deputy Foreign Minister Ajith Perera told reporters Friday that Parliament will debate the bill on April 20 and 21 and he is confident of receiving a two-thirds majority.
“This is a forward step in strengthening the country’s democratic setup,” said Perera, adding that the proposed reforms will empower the Parliament.
The changes include independent commissions to appoint officials for the judiciary, elections, police and public service. Also the president will not be able to dissolve Parliament or appoint cabinet ministers at his or her discretion, he said.
Sirisena’s predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa was accused of ruling autocratically by eliminating a two-term limit for the presidency and bringing under him powers to make all top appointments including judges.
Sirisena, who was health minister in the Rajapaksa administration, led a revolt and was elected in January with the support of a coalition of opposition parties.
During the campaign Sirisena was critical of the presidential system and promised to share power with the Parliament and independent commissions.
After his victory, Sirisena has appointed a former opposition leader as the prime minister.