Reintroduction of 17-A more important than toppling Govt. - Ranil


Ranil Wickremesinghe addressing yesterday’s event(Pic by Ranjith Wimalasiri)

by Zacki Jabbar

The immediate reintroduction of the 17th Amendment to the Constitution which established the independent commissions was more important than ousting the Rajapaksa regime,UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe said yesterday in Colombo.

Addressing a "Peoples Assembly" which was attended by a cross section of civil society and members of various political parties at the J.R.Jayewardene Center to discuss the UNP’s new constitutional formulation, Wickremesinghe said that it was due to the absence of good governance and transparency that corruption and the law and order situation had deteriorated to unprecedented levels.

"Let’s forget about toppling the government. It is more important to immediately re-establish the independent Public Service, Police, Elections, Judicial Service and Bribery and Corruption Commissions. Once that is achieved the rest will fall in place,’’ he noted.

Policemen have been remanded for being involved in killings and robberies. The former Chief Justice was evicted without due procedure being followed while some judicial officers had been hauled up before courts for taking bribes. The appalling situation, the UNP leader observed could have been arrested if the Independent Commissions were in existence.

He said that over 40 fishermen were killed at sea recently but there was no one to take responsibility since the Ministries had been duplicated several times over resulting in the ministers themselves being clueless as to the subjects that came under their purview.

Pointing out that the UNP had released a constitutional formulation and not a draft constitution, Wickremesinghe noted that they wanted it subjected to the widest possible discussion since the objective was to enact laws that would safeguard the sovereignty of the people which had been ruthlessly robbed by the current regime.

In drafting its constitutional formulation the UNP had studied systems prevalent in many other countries including Sweden, European Union and South Africa. It had also taken into consideration the undertakings given by the Rajapaksa government to both the Sri Lankan Parliament and the United Nations Human Rights Commission, he observed.

On the system of government, the public had been given three options including the right to decide on the abolition of the Executive Presidency. The Jathika Hela Urumaya had submitted its views on the and they were willing to discuss it further, the UNP leader noted while welcoming more suggestions.

He pointed out that the government was in a total mess with frequent infighting. A Minister, it was said, had been hit by another at last weeks Cabinet meeting but only vague denials had been issued.

Even when world market oil prices had dropped, no relief had been provided to the consumer. Instead the prices of essentials such as electricity were jacked up to levels that the poor man could not afford, Wickremesinghe said.

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