Post of PM to be strengthened

JVP tables 21-A to abolish Executive Presidency


 By Saman Indrajith

The JVP yesterday presented to Parliament a bill titled 20th Amendment to the Constitution to abolish the executive presidency.

The bill was presented to the House by party MP Vijtiha Herath.

 It seeks to amend Article 4 of the constitution, which has vested the executive power in the President, elected by the people. Article 30 of the present Constitution, which accredits the Head of State position to the President is to be amended by the bill, which also says the person, elected to the post of president, "shall cease" to hold office upon the election of a president by the next parliament notwithstanding the fact that period of five years has not elapsed from the date of his appointment.

The President will be elected by a simple majority in Parliament including those not present, within four weeks of its first sitting, the bill has envisioned.

As per the provisions of the new bill the president will be deprived of powers to prorogue Parliament and will not be able to hold any office or be a member of any political party during his tenure.

The new bill has only proposed to retain the powers of the president to appoint and accredi ambassadors, high commissioners, plenipotentiaries and other diplomatic agents on the advice of the Cabinet of ministers as conveyed to him by the Prime Minister.

Article 31 of the present Constitution, which provides for the election and the term of the President, has been proposed to be repealed in its entirety.

Article 42 of the Constitution, which contains provisions for the Cabinet of ministers has been proposed to be amended by vesting the powers of the post of the president in the prime minister.

The current constitutional provisions, which enable the President to act "in consultation with the Prime Minister, where he considers such consultation to be necessary" is to be substituted by the words "on the advice of the Prime Minister."

The Bill contains following provisions for the avoidance of doubt subtitled as Transitional Provisions:

"(a) the Eighth Parliament in existence on the day preceding the date on which this Act comes into operation, shall, unless dissolved earlier, continue to function until 8th day of February 2020 and shall thereafter stand dissolved;

(b) the person holding office as the President on the date on which Act comes into operation shall continue to hold such office until 8th day of January 2020 subject to the provisions of the constitution;

(c) the person holding office as the Prime Minister on the date on which this Act comes into operation shall continue till the Parliamentary General Election for the election of the ninth parliament subject to provisions of the constitution for the time being in force, and

(d) the provisions of this Act shall come into force on the 9th day of January 2020."

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