“A vast majority of the people in our country expects that democracy should be established in the country. It is the responsibility of the politicians to fulfil this expectation of the people. We would do our best to get the 20th amendment passed in Parliament. We also ask other political parties to support the amendment. We ask the masses not to be deceived by false propaganda. The JVP will never support any move to divide the country. If a referendum is necessary regarding the amendment, the JVP would be prepared for that as well. We ask the people to use their valuable vote to establish democracy,” says Information Secretary of the JVP Comrade Vijitha Herath.
Speaking at a press conference held at the head office of the JVP at Pelawatta yesterday (6th) Comrade Vijitha Herath said, “The executive powers given to one person should be removed and democracy should be established in the country. The JVP opposed when the constitution with the executive presidency was introduced. Later, various programmes were carried out against the executive presidency. We have presented to parliament the 20th amendment to the Constitution as a final programme to abolish executive presidency. We presented it to parliament and the Speaker forwarded it to the Attorney General. Subsequently, it was put on gazette with Attorney General’s observations on 6th July 2018. Later, we requested the Speaker to enter it to the agenda to be presented in parliament and asked the Speaker for a date. It had been entered on the agenda on the 5th and it is how the amendment was presented officially to parliament after a prior announcement.
As the JVP, we are very pleased with the approval to officially present the 20th amendment to Parliament. Next, the Speaker will have to refer the amendment to the minister in charge of the subject. However, there is no minister in charge of the Constitution. As such, the amendment has to be presented to the head of the government, who is the Prime Minister. The stand of the government should be presented to parliament within six months. The government also can present its stand to parliament in two weeks or a month. The time depends on the government. Once the stand of the government is presented the amendment should be presented for the third reading in Parliament and should be adopted with a 2/3rd majority.
We, as the JVP, hope to officially discuss with political parties in a bid to get a 2/3rd majority in Parliament. Meanwhile, we expect proposals from Parliamentarians and political parties regarding the amendment. We would study the proposals that would be forwarded and make necessary amendment. Already, we have been able to have discussions with Parliamentarians. That’s how it was possible to get the approval to present the amendment to parliament. We think a discussion with all parties that represent Parliament is necessary. We never thought of an advantage or a disadvantage to an individual or a party when we brought in the proposal. The main objective of the proposal is to strengthen democracy in our country. We have immensely experienced the destruction caused by the executive presidency. Executive powers have been and are being used to postpone elections, plunder votes, grant presidential pardon for thieves, fraudsters etc. A civilized and democratic rule should be established in our country. We bring in this proposal with this noble objective.
We hope to apprise the masses regarding this proposal. At various instances, false information has been given regarding this proposal. The amendment will not give the President’s powers to the Prime Minister. What happens is the executive powers with the President will be decentralized and will be with the Parliament, the cabinet and the Constitutional Council. There is no clause included that divides the country. Hence, anyone who loves the country need not fear the amendment. We, as the JVP, assure the people that the amendment will have nothing destructive to the country.
A 2/3rd majority is necessary to pass the amendment in parliament. As such the support of Mr Mahinda Rajapaksa’s faction, Mr Maithripala Sirisena’s faction, the UNP, the TNA and the EPDP is essential to get the amendment adopted. We may not get all 225 MPs to support the amendment. However, we believe that a majority of the MPs would support it. A vast majority of the people in our country expects that democracy should be established in the country. It is the responsibility of the politicians to fulfil this expectation of the people. We would do our best to get the 20th amendment passed in Parliament. We also ask other political parties to support the amendment. We ask the masses not to be deceived by false propaganda. The JVP will never support any move to divide the country. If a referendum is necessary regarding the amendment, the JVP would be prepared for that as well. We ask the people to use their valuable vote to establish democracy.”