LNP – 2/3 for 20A: Sirisena skips vote

The 20th Amendment to the Constitution was passed in Parliament, last night, with 156 MPs voting for it; 65 MPs voted against it.

The government easily secured a two-thirds majority in the 225-member Legislature for the passage of the constitutional amendment, which will restore the executive powers which the 19th Amendment removed from the President.

All government members save one voted for the Bill, and several Opposition MPs joined them.

Differences that had cropped up among some of the constituent parties of the SLPP were ironed out at the last minute after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa met Ministers Wimal Weerawansa, Udaya Gammanpila and Vasudeva Nanayakakra, who had publicly voiced their opposition to the section for allowing dual citizens to enter Parliament.

They voted for the Bill including the dual citizenship provision after the President gave an undertaking that such provisions would not be there in the new Constitution to be framed.

SJB Anuradhapura District MPs Ishak Rahuman and MS Thowfeek, National List MP Dayana Gamage, Digamadulla MPs HMM Harees and Faizal Cassim, Badulla District MP A. Aravindh Kumar, SLMC Batticaloa District MP Naseer Ahamad and MNA Puttalam District MP AS Raheem voted with the government.

SLFP leader former President Maithripala Sirisena was a notable absentee in the House.

When the second reading stage vote was taken, the Bill received 156 votes for and 65 votes against.

The SJB, NPP, TNA and several other Opposition MPs from different independent parties voted against the Bill.

The final vote was taken last night at the end of the two-day debate on the Bill, which has been strongly opposed by opposition lawmakers but also by members of the Buddhist and catholic/Christian clergy, and civil society groups.

During the third reading of the Bill (committee stage) the government introduced several amendments, some in keeping with the determination of the Supreme Court and others suggested by some government members.

Chief Opposition Whip Lakshman Kiriella asked for a division on the clause on permitting duel citizens to enter parliament, and when that particular clause was put to vote it received 157 votes for and 64 votes against.

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