A major highlight of the Memorandum of Understanding between the United National Party (UNP) and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (M) will be the convening of a Parliamentary Constituent Assembly after a general election to implement a series of amendments to the Constitution.
They will be mainly to reduce the powers of the Executive Presidency, restrict the number of members in the Cabinet and prohibit crossovers in Parliament, according to a draft now being knocked into shape.
Whilst the UNP and the SLFP (M) factions have reached accord on the pruning of powers of the Executive President, there are still differences of opinion over the size of the Cabinet. Whilst the UNP wants a Cabinet of 35 Ministers, the SLFP (M) is of the view that it should be restricted to 30. There were indications yesterday that the two sides would agree to 32 as a compromise.
The SLFP (M) has urged that the MoU should make provision for the two sides to contest the elections under a common symbol. This would mean the UNP would have to give up the Elephant symbol.
UNP sources said yesterday that discussions on the issue were still continuing. According to these sources, a compromise is to be reached before Thursday when the MoU is to be signed. The MoU will be in two parts. One will set out the policy objectives of the common front. Whilst that would be released to the media, another accord setting out the logistics of the common front will also be signed. The latter, however, will not be released to the media.