President has lost his immunity, answerable to parliament - Rajitha

by Shamindra Ferdinando

Following the enactment of the 19 Amendment to the Constitution, incumbent President Maithripala Sirisena had lost his immunity and was also answerable to parliament, government spokesperson Dr Rajitha Senaratne said yesterday.

Dr. Senaratne, who is also the Health and Indigenous Medicine Minister said that the 19 Amendment had achieved what many believed was impossible. Addressing the media at the Government Information Department, Dr. Senaratne said that the new piece of legislation did away with the President’s right to dissolve parliament just one year after a general election.

Minister Senaratne recalled how then President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga dissolved the UNP-led UNF government elected at December 2001 general election after about two years in office. He pointed out the absurdity in one person having the power to decide the fate of a government elected for a six-year term.

With the passage of the 19 Amendment, the 18 Amendment was abolished, thereby paving the way for the implementation of the provisions contained in the 17 Amendment repealed by former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, Dr. Senaratne said.

The government spokesperson said that with the doing away of the 18 Amendment, the two-term limit on a person holding the office of the President, too, had been restored. The minister apologized for backing the 18 Amendment when he served the previous administration in the capacity of a minister.

Incumbent President would serve five years though he was elected at the Jan, 2015 presidential election for a six-year term, the minister said.

He alleged that an attempt was made to block the 19 Amendment to the Constitution, thereby forcing the President to dissolve the parliament without fulfilling his most important election pledge.

Dr Senaratne said that in accordance with the 19 Amendment to the Constitution, the President would decide on the number of ministers and subjects allocated to them in consultation/advise of the Prime Minister, though the President wasn’t required to accept them.

Responding to a query posed by an Indian journalist, Minister Senaratne said that 19 Amendment to the Constitution would benefit all communities. Any particular community couldn’t expect laws to be introduced only for their benefit, the minister said.

Asked whether the formation of the next government following the general election expected within the next few months, Dr Senaratne said that a national government would be formed for at least 2 year period. Although smaller parties could join the government, the 19 Amendment envisaged that the two major parties in parliament should form the administration, he said. The minister emphasized that the participation of the two major parties was necessary to ensure stability.

animated gif
Processing Request
Please Wait...