Sri Lanka’s former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is constitutionally barred from contesting again to become President, has opted to support a proposal to abolish the executive presidency. Under executive presidency, head of the state possesses all relevant executive powers.
Bandula Gunawardena, chairperson of Mr. Rajapaksa’s ‘Joint Opposition’, told reporters on Tuesday that Mr. Rajapaksa has conveyed this to Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, who has given the proposal to abolish the executive presidency.
“But Parliament must be dissolved to hold a general election on the same day the constitutional change is approved,” Mr. Gunawardena said.
The JVP was to move a constitutional amendment to abolish the executive presidency, in existence since 1978. However, a decision last week by President Maithripala Sirisena to suspend Parliament’s current session has upset the plan. It has to be brought now in the next session of Parliament beginning on May 8.
Mr. Rajapaksa was elected twice as President. In 2010, he adopted an amendment to the Constitution allowing him to contest any number of times. Mr. Sirisena’s present government restored the two-term limit in 2015 through the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.
With the unexpected win of a new party backed by Mr. Rajapaksa in the local council elections held February, he has pushed for an early parliamentary poll ahead of its 2020 August schedule. However, the next election due is the presidential election which must be held by January of 2020.