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Wednesday, September 08, 2010 - 14.00 GMT

Parliament approves 18th Amendment with overwhelming majority
161 for, 17 against


The Parliament has passed the 18th Amendment to the constitution with an unprecedented majority this afternoon. All the Members of Parliament of the UPFA and SLMC, several MPs of the UNP and a single MP of the TNA voted in favour of the Amendment, while the TNA and JVP voted against. Majority of UNP MPs did not participate in the debate.

Prime Minister D M Jayaratne presented the Bill titled 18th Amendment to the Constitution in Parliament yesterday. The voting took place today after a day-long debate.

The provisions of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution will enhance the people’s franchise, by the specific provision of removing the ceiling on the number of terms an elected President could hold office, and giving the people a wider choice in the election of a President.

By requiring the President to attend parliament on a periodically stipulated basis would make the President answerable to people in a more meaningful manner, ensuring that the President is brought into the process of parliament where the elected representatives of the people would be given an opportunity to address their concerns to him or her.

The significant clauses of the 18th Amendments are:

1. The provision to remove the stipulation of the maximum period for a person elected as President to hold office. The current maximum of two presidential terms is to be removed.

2. Change the composition, manner and functioning of the present Constitutional Council, established under the 17th Amendment, which will be hereinafter known as the Parliamentary Council, and comprising only Members of Parliament.
3. It also has provision requiring the President to be present in Parliament periodically – once in every three months.

It will also redefine the functions of the Police Commission and the classification of Police Officers, including the Inspector General of Police, within the ambit of Public Officers; specifies the policy making powers of the Cabinet of Ministers, defines the composition and a specific demarcation of the powers of the Elections Commission during the time of an election, and has Transitional Provisions for the avoidance of doubt in interpretation.

The provisions of the 18th Amendment ensures that the Executive Power reposed in the elected President is inalienable, and that any abdication of that power would be contrary to several Articles of the Constitution, as earlier held by the Supreme Court.

The Parliamentary Council, which will replace the Constitution Council will ensure the supremacy of parliament as it will comprise members selected by and Parliament, from among its members. There will be no Presidential representative in the proposed Council unlike the 10-member Constitutional Council stipulated in the 17th Amendment.

The envisaged five-member Parliamentary Council will have the Speaker, Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition and two other nominees from Parliament, approved by the Parliament, selected by the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition.





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Last modified: September 09, 2010.

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