Colombo: Sri Lankan cabinet on Monday passed the 21st Amendment to the Constitution aimed at empowering Parliament over the executive president and now it will be tabled in Parliament, a top minister has said.
The 21st Amendment is expected to annul the 20A to the Constitution, which gives unfettered powers to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa after abolishing the 19th Amendment that will strengthen Parliament.
“The 21 amendment was tabled and passed in cabinet today and will be tabled in @ParliamentLK soon. Like to thank @RW_UNP and @wijerajapakshe for pushing it through,” Minister of Tourism and Lands Harin Fernando tweeted.
The 21A aims, among other reforms, at barring dual citizens from contesting elections to hold public office.
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A section of the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna party (SLPP) was opposed to bringing in 21A without addressing the current economic crisis.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had batted for the 21st Amendment to the Constitution, saying it will curb the president’s unlimited powers while enhancing the role of Parliament in governing the debt-ridden country which is also facing an unprecedented political turmoil.
The powerful Rajapaksa family tightened their grip on power after their massive victory in the general elections in August 2020, which allowed them to amend the Constitution to restore presidential powers and install close family members in key positions.
Wickremesinghe was the main sponsor of the 19th Amendment in 2015 which empowered Parliament over the executive president.
The constitutional reform was a major plank of the agreement between Rajapaksa and Wickremesinghe when he took over the job of prime minister on May 12.
Sri Lanka has been grappling with unprecedented economic turmoil since its independence from Britain in 1948.
Sri Lanka’s economic crisis has created political unrest with protesters demanding the President’s resignation.
Under the 21A, the President will be held accountable to the Parliament.
The Cabinet of Ministers is also accountable to Parliament. The National Council is also accountable to Parliament. Fifteen Committees and Oversight Committees are accountable to Parliament.