Image: President Sirisena who promised to do away with Executive Presidency in front of late Maduluwawe thero’s body now wants to continue for six years in his office. (credit: Daily News)
Although President Sirisena has very clearly said that the term of president should be 5 years, now he has requested the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka to determine ” Whether, in terms of Provisions of the constitution, I as the person elected and succeeding to the office of President and having assumed the office in terms of Article 32(1) of the constitution on 09th January 2015 have any impediment to continue in the office of the President for period of six years from 9th January 2015.. “
We give below the opinion expressed by ‘ Democracy Sri Lanka’ group.
Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution:
- Article 30 of the Constitution is hereby repealed and the following Article substituted therefor:-
- (1) There shall be a President of the Republic of Sri Lanka, who is the Head of the State, the Head of the Executive and of the Government and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.
(2) The President of the Republic shall be elected by the People and shall hold office for a term of five years.”.
Section 49 of 19th Amendment:
(1)For the avoidance of doubt it is hereby declared that,–
(a) the Seventh Parliament in existence on the day preceding the date on which this Act comes into operation, shall, unless dissolved earlier, continue to function until April 21, 2016 and shall thereafter stand dissolved;
(b) the persons holding office respectively, as the President and Prime Minister on the day preceding April 22, 2015 shall continue to hold such office after such date, subject to the provisions of the Constitution as amended by this Act;
(c) every person holding office on the day preceding ……..
So, 19th Amendment makes it clear that the President in office on 22 April 2015, that is Maitreepala Sirisena- will hold office as per the amended Constitution, and not as per the constitutional provisions that existed when he was elected on 08 January 2015.
In contrast, although the 19th Amendment reduces the term of Parliament to 5 years, the then existing Parliament can continue till 21 April 2016, that is the full term of 6 years to which it was elected.
President Maithripala Sirisena said that the term of office of the President of Sri Lanka will be reduced to five years from the original six.
“I insisted that the terms of the Presidency be reduced to four years, but the Committee of Constitutional Experts and political leaders did not agree with my demand,” the President said addressing public officials of the Polonnaruwa district at the Thopawewa school grounds today (26).
“They said that holding a Presidential Election every four years was not good for the country,” he said.
The President added that they later came to the consensus that the term of the Presidency should be confined to five years due to his strong insistence.
The committee comprising constitutional experts are in the process of discussing on how unlimited powers of the Executive Presidency should be vested in the Legislature.
“Anti-apartheid hero and former South African President Nelson Mandela succeeded in bringing many reforms to that country during his four year rule after languishing in jail for over 27 years,” he noted.
President Sirisena said that Sri Lankan leaders can learn many lessons from President Nelson Mandela who introduced many reforms in the economic, political and social fields within his 4 year rule.