COLOMBO: A much-delayed resolution to draft a new constitution for Sri Lanka was unanimously passed by the country’s parliament here on Wednesday.
The resolution was passed without a division as no one called for it, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP, M.A.Sumanthiran, told Express.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had introduced the resolution first in December 2015, and it was to have been debated and passed on January 9, 2016, a day after the first anniversary of the victory of Maithripala Sirisena in the Lankan Presidential election.
But the PM’s bid ran into rough weather with the bulk of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and the United Peoples’ Freedom Alliance (UPFA), of which the SLFP is part, wanting amendments which could not be discussed and voted on quickly.
The opponents wanted the Preamble of the resolution to be deleted in its entirety, because it was a divisively political statement on the meaning of Sirisena’ victory in the Presidential election; his promise to restore democracy and his desire to abolish the Executive Presidency.
The opposition also wanted the “Constitutional Assembly” (composed of the entire membership of the present parliament) to be established under an existing Standing Order of parliament and not outside it.
Finally, after talks between the ruling United National Party (UNP) led by Wickremesinghe, the SLFP led by President Sirisena, the UPFA and the faction led by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, it was decided to delete the politically divisive Preamble in its entirety.
It was also agreed that the Constitutional Assembly will be formed without reference to any Standing Order of parliament though the Standing Orders could be used in the process of drafting the constitution wherever necessary.
Sumanthiran further said that some other “inconsequential” amendments of a “technical nature” suggested by the SLFP and the Joint Opposition, were also accepted to enable the smooth passage of the much delayed resolution.