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Saturday, December 5, 2020

Sri Lanka should not undo democratic gains or roll back devolution in the Constitution – The Hindu

It would be a travesty of democratic principles if the independence of institutions such as the Election Commission is now curbed in the name of undoing the 19th Amendment. After all, it is now recognised that the largely peaceful and orderly polling was only because of the EC’s autonomy. If not for nothing else, but as an acknowledgment of the free election that enabled it to get a massive mandate, the ruling party should seek to prove its detractors wrong by preserving the democratic gains of the amendment. Further, the plan to rewrite the Constitution under the rubric of a ‘one country, one law’ principle should not be at odds with the urgent need for a new inclusive constitution that would put the country on the path of equality and reconciliation. The President’s address was also notable for the absence of any reference to ethnic minorities. For long, Sri Lankan leaders have maintained that they can give little by way of constitutional concessions to the minorities without the consent of the majority Sinhalese. Given the dependence of the Rajapaksas on the majority, it is possible to look at the President’s remarks on the proposed Constitution in the portentous sense of moving away from the concept of devolution. While the abolition of the executive presidency appears no more realistic, it will be retrograde if the idea of sharing more power with the provinces is abandoned altogether.

The Hindu

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