Sri Lanka cabinet moves to clip President Rajapaksa’s powers | Politics News

The cabinet approved the constitutional amendment in a move to appease protesters calling for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to step down.

Sri Lanka’s cabinet has approved constitutional reforms that would limit the president’s powers in a move to appease protesters calling for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa quit his job about the country’s worst economic crisis in decades.

Dinouk Colombage, media adviser to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, told Al Jazeera on Tuesday that the decision to amend the constitution to cut the president’s broad powers was made during a cabinet meeting on Monday. .

The draft of the so-called 21st amendment to the Sri Lankan constitution relinquishes some powers to parliament and restores independence to committees in key decision-making.

Tourism Minister Harin Fernando said in a tweet: “Amendment 21 was tabulated and approved in the cabinet today,” Tourism Minister Harin Fernando said in a tweet, adding that the proposal appear will be sent to the country’s parliament, where they need a vote of two-thirds of the members.

In October 2020, less than a year after becoming president, Gotabaya, with the help of his brother, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, introduced the 20th Amendment in parliament, which gave it to the president. far-reaching power.

Subsequent changes allowed the president to hold ministries as well as appoint and fire ministers. It also empowers the president to appoint elections, public service, police, human rights, and commissions investigating corruption or bribery.

Sri Lanka has been ruled under a strong executive presidential system since 1978, but a reformed government in 2015 curtailed most of the presidential powers and delegated them to parliament and committees. independent, arguing that successive presidents are often more authoritarian.

As the country reels from its worst economic crisis ever, much of it is blamed on Powerful RajapaksasPresident Gotabaya has hinted at concessions to his demands to reduce his powers to reassure protesters.

The removal of Rajapaksas from public office has been one of the main demands of months of protests over the economic crisis in the island nation of 22 million people.

Economic mismanagement and the COVID-19 pandemic have left Sri Lanka facing its worst financial problems in seven decades, and foreign exchange shortages have made imports of essential commodities including including fuel, food and medicine stalled.

On Monday, a nine-member International Monetary Fund (IMF) team to the commercial capital of Colombo to hold talks with Prime Minister Wickremesinghe on how to structure the country’s 17th lending program with a global lender.

Sri Lanka suspended payments of $12 billion in external debt in April and is seeking up to $3 billion from the IMF to get its public finances on track and access bridge financing.

But public anxiety over prolonged shortages is growing. Thousands of students from state universities marched in Sri Lanka’s main city of Colombo on Monday to demand the resignation of the president and prime minister.

Protesters blocked the entrance to the Treasury Department on Monday and police had to assist an official due to attend IMF talks.

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