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Wijeyadasa muses on ‘abolition’ of Exec. Presidency

Wijeyadasa muses on ‘abolition’ of Exec. Presidency

16 Nov 2023 | BY Sahan Tennekoon

  • Says SL’s fate would have been vastly different from present if such was abolished sans regressive and restorative constitutional amendments 

The country’s fate could have been very different from what we experience today if the Executive Presidency had been abolished, opined the Minister of Justice, Prison Affairs and Constitutional Reforms, President’s Counsel Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe.

Speaking in the Parliament during the Budget debate, the Minister said yesterday (15) that the Supreme Court (SC) has given judgments regarding the conduct of almost all the living former Presidents including Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, Mahinda Rajapaksa, Maithripala Sirisena and Gotabaya Rajapaksa, which makes it clear that the Executive Presidency is not suitable for Sri Lanka. He also noted that even though many attempts were made, some of which succeeded, to abolish aspects of the Executive Presidency, all those attempts became fruitless with the successive constitutional Amendments which restored the previous corrupt system. 

“Our SC has given judgments against all the former Presidents. In the Waters’ Edge case, the SC held that former President Kumaratunga had violated fundamental rights. Recently, the same Court held that former President Sirisena had breached the responsibilities of the Presidency during his time in office. Yesterday (14), two former Presidents (Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Mahinda Rajapaksa) were accused of letting the country go bankrupt. So, these events make it clear that this system should be changed,” he said.

Dr. Rajapakshe further stated that the way in which the Executive President is elected has changed from time to time, and that people are making decisions based on the country’s interest. “Here, the President is elected in a different manner. In 1994, people wanted someone who could eradicate corruption and terror, and therefore, 62% of the voters elected President Kumaratunga. She took many efforts to do what she was asked to. She even brought a resolution to abolish the Executive Presidency which was burnt in this House by the Opposition. Sometimes, Sri Lanka’s fate could have been changed if it was passed. Then, people elected Mahinda Rajapaksa to end the civil war and again Sirisena to establish good governance. Gotabaya Rajapaksa came to power as a result of national security issues,” he said.

He also said that former Treasury Secretary and President’s Secretary P.B. Jayasundara and former Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal who prevented President Gotabaya Rajapaksa from seeking help from the International Monetary Fund, must be held responsible for this chaos, and said that the SC ruling over those people is appreciative.

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