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Sri Lanka former speaker calls for abolition of executive presidency

ECONOMYNEXT — Sri Lanka’s former speaker Karu Jayasuriya has reiterated a call for abolishing the all-powerful executive presidency, expressing his hope that candidates for the upcoming presidential election will pledge to do so.

Speaking at an event on Tuesday January 02, Jayasuriya said attempts by past leaders and governments to do away with the presidency were scuttled by various actors for political reasons.

The former speaker, who was once deputy leader of the United National Party (UNP), also discussed the importance of abolishing  the executive presidency to resolving Sri Lanka’s decades-long ethnic issue.

“As long as there is no trust between the Sinhalese and the Tamils, we cannot advance as a country. The national question cannot be solved through politics alone, because there will be various resistive influences,” he said.

“In 2000, then President Chandrika Bandaranaiake Kumaratunga tried to abolish the executive presidency and roll out a new constitution. This was a valuable proposal. But for political reasons it could not be taken forward,” said Jayasuriya.

It was, in fact, the UNP, the main opposition party at the time, that opposed Kumaratunga’s move, going so far as to burn a copy of the draft constitution in parliament.

“During the [UNP-led] Yahapalana government days, attempts were made to establish a new constitution and work according to that. That too was unsuccessful due to narrow political and racist views,” said Jayasuriya.

“We saw in the media that the clergy has said this cannot continue, and this problem must not be transferred to the next generation, and that we need everybody’s support to resolve it.

“We have seen how this country suffered from racism, extremism. We need everyone’s support to prevent this country from being destroyed by the flames of racism and religious extremism and take it forward to a new era,” he said.

Jayasuriya heads the National Movement for Social Justice, which he said continues to stand for the abolition of the executive presidency.

“We hope all candidates for the next election will make this promise to the people,” he said. (Colombo/Jan03/2023)

Source: Economynext