COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena appealed Thursday for support for legislation to check the enormous powers of the presidency, one of his key election pledges.
In a televised address to the nation as his government marked 100 days in power, Sirisena asked lawmakers to “become a partner to strengthen the freedom and democracy of the people.”
The bill will be debated next week, with the minority government needing two-thirds of the votes in the 225-member parliament to pass it.
The proposal includes strengthening Parliament and setting up an independent judiciary and police.
Parliamentary supporters of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who narrowly lost the January election to Sirisena, oppose the proposal and may have enough votes to thwart it.
Sirisena, who was health minister in Rajapaksa’s Cabinet, has accused Rajapaksa of being an autocrat.
Sirisena said the changes are necessary “to restore freedom and democracy, build a decent society and to prevent creation of dictatorial rulers in the future.”
Associated Press By BHARATHA MALLAWARACHI