Sri Lanka govt has no mandate to create new Constitution, says former president Mahinda Rajapaksa

Colombo: Sri Lanka's former president Mahinda Rajapaksa on Sunday warned that the constitutional reform process undertaken by the Sirisena government would end up with a federal Constitution for the country replacing the current unitary charter.

Sri Lankan flag. Reuters.

Sri Lankan flag. Reuters.

Speaking at a political gathering at Bibile in the central region of the country, Rajapaksa said, "It will be a federal Constitution. We are all opposed to it".

Rajapaksa alleged that Tamil National Alliance (TNA) had said that in Tamil-dominated region in the North, the new Constitution will be a federal constitution even if it will not be named so.

"This government has no mandate to create a new constitution. They only have the mandate to abolish the presidential system," Rajapaksa said.

The current government of President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe launched their action for a brand new constitution in early 2016. Several committees comprising members of all political parties were appointed.

A 21-member steering committee which was formed last year, consists of the Prime Minister (Chairman), Leader of the Opposition, Leader of the House, the Minister of Justice, and not more than 11 other Members of the Constitutional Assembly.

The committee report to the parliament soon with its final recommendations.

Rajapaksa said the Joint Opposition (JO) members will join the constitutional process only if the local council elections are held.

The government has been postponing elections for over 300 local councils since 2015 for want of electoral reforms. But the JO has dubbed the postponement as one taken for political reasons as the government feared losing the election to JO.

He said the election was now likely to happen in September.

Updated Date: Jul 02, 2017 22:12 PM

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