Responding to former President Chandrika’s Kumaratinga’s claim today that the UNP did not support her constitutional reform programme in 2000, cabinet spokesman, Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne said the UNP rejected it because the draft constitution in 2000 had proposed to create a ‘Union of Regions’ which is extreme power devolution going even beyond the federal system.
Addressing the weekly cabinet news briefing yesterday, Minister Senaratne said another atrocious proposal was inserting a clause surreptitiously by the then Constitutional Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris to extend the term of office President Kumaratunga by another two years.
“The UNP or the SLFP have not agreed ever for a federal system of governance and change their stance on the unitary character of the state. But both parties led by President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe are agreeable for power devolution as a final solution to the north-east issue based on these principles.
Both parties have never disagreed not to devolve power to provinces while honouring of the guiding principles of the 1970 and 1978 Constitutions,” Minister Senaratne stressed.
Responding to a journalist, Minister Senaratne reiterated that two main parties of the unity government, the UNP and the SLFP were also for the abolition of the Executive Presidency as pledged by both during the Presidential and Parliamentary elections in January 2015 and August 2015 respectively.
Both parties cannot depart from this pledge and President Sirisena is determined to do that. He wanted to prune all executive powers from the 19th Amendment but the Supreme Court ruled otherwise, Minister Senaratne added.
Minister Senaratne also said the SLFP Central Committee (CC) has not decided to continue with the Executive Presidency but discussed the matter. However, President Sirisena is not interested in not to abolish the executive powers of the President. (Sandun A Jaysekera)