The Constitutional Council (CC) to be constituted under the 21st Amendment passed last Friday in Parliament will have to act without offending other two pillars of democracy, the President and the Judiciary, SLFP chief and former President Maithripala Sirisena said.
He accused that the Constitutional Council under the yahapalana regime functioned in an extremely biased and partisan manner ignoring the executive President.
Addressing the media at the party head office Sirisena that he was the only executive President who consented to clip his powers through the 19th Amendment but what happened was the legislature and the Prime Minister used the constitutional amendments to further weaken the Presidency.
“With the pruning of the powers of the executive President, two other power bases were also created under the Prime Minister and the Speaker who worked independently. I believe that with the passing of the 21st Amendment, this situation would change,” he said.
Explaining further, Sirisena said he once as the President, nominated senior DIG, S.M.Wickramasingha to the CC for the post of IG as he was the most senior and experienced police officer of the Police Department at that time. But it was rejected by the CC saying that number of ministers were not in agreement with appointment Wickramasingha as the IG as he has also served as the chief security officer of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Ministers wanted Pujitha Jayasundara as the IG. Thereafter I nominated Wickramasingha, Pujitha and current IG Chndana Wickramaratna to the CC for the consideration for the post of IG. The rejection of my nominations of a number of Court of Appeal judges to be promoted to the Supreme Court by the CC also deprived them their due promotions, he noted.
The independent commissions constituted on by the CC are expected to be independent but it is far from the truth as almost all the commissions are highly politicized together with the CC. Under the provisions of the 19th Amendment, a set of guidelines and regulations are required to pass in Parliament to ensure the independence of the CC and for its smooth functioning but this has not happened so far. With the passing of the 21st Amendment, the government is expected to introduce these laws to make the CC a truly independent and democratic legislative body, he added.
The SLFP voted for the 21st Amendment on Friday not in support of the government but it was a necessity to strengthen democracy and good governance.
Commenting on the current food crisis, Sirisena said Sri Lanka did not import rice during his presidency but today the government imports rice after destroying the agriculture sector in toto. The Maha season is also under threat as the short supply of urea for paddy cultivation. For one acre of paddy, a farmer needs 186 kilograms of urea but the government has provided them with only 14 kilograms. This will result to a sharp drop of paddy cultivation and compelling the government to import more rice, Sirisena charged.