( Dr. Jayampathy Wickremaratne ©s.deshapriya)
The reports of the five sub-committees on Fundamental Rights, Judiciary, Law and Order, Centre Periphery Relations, Public Finance is due in the first week of August says Constitution Steering Committee member and MP Dr. Jayampathy Wickremaratne.
The parliamentary Steering Committee on the new constitution, will begin discussions on the alternative option for the executive presidency shortly.
In the backdrop of President Maithripala Sirisena reiterating his stance that the Executive Presidency must be abolished during his term in office, recently, the steering committee has decided to take it up for discussion soon.
Constitution Steering Committee member and MP Dr. Jayampathy Wickremaratne said, the President’s statement was welcome news. “Earlier there was some ambiguity but now the stance is clear and the two main political parties have come on board to support it,” he said
Refuting allegations that there is a secret draft of the new constitution which accommodates Western dictates, he said, “Not a single Article of the constitution has been drafted. Even a formal drafting committee is yet to be appointed.”
One of the key pillars in the constitution-making process, Dr.Wickremaratne said without the preliminary agreements on the basic structure it was not possible to move on to the drafting stage.
He said deliberations on the ‘nature of the state’ has been put off for the last stages since they did not want to be bogged down by contentious issues and therefore it was wrong to say the government was conniving to create a secular state or a federal state. He said however, there is definite progress on the subjects of electoral reforms and the devolution of powers to the peripheries with minor and major parties willing to find common ground.
Wickremaratne said most likely there will not be a national list in a future electoral system.
Parliament was converted into a Constitutional Assembly(CA) early this year to deliberate on a new Constitution, scrapping the executive presidency and the first sitting of the CA was held in April. All political parties in Parliament were represented in the Steering Committee and the five Sub Committees on the new constitution.
(Original Caption: ‘National List, Executive Presidency out’)
By Manjula Fernando /Sunday Observer