Second bill of the 19th amendment to the constitution was adopted in Parliament with an overwhelming majority today (April 28).
Two hundred and fifteen (215) Members of Parliament (MPs) voted for the amendment while only one, MP Sarath Weerasekara voted against it.
MP Ajith Kumara abstained the voting while seven Members of Parliament were absent.
The 19th Amendment to the Constitution will annul the 18th Amendment while replacing the now defunct 17th Amendment to establish the Independent Commissions.
It would also remove the Executive Presidential powers and limit the term of office of the President to five years.
The President will continue to function as the Head of State and Head of Security Forces.
19th Amendment to the Constitution
Curtailing the powers of the Executive Presidency and establishing independent commissions have been a strongly felt need by many parties including civil society, religious leaders, political activists, intellectual as well majority of people in Sri Lanka. Abolishing executive presidency has been an election slogan since 1994, although none of those previous attempts were successful. The main arguments against it were that it leads to authoritarian rule and corruption.
The proposed 19th Amendment was initiated by many politicians, activists and intellectuals including Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera and Ven. Athureliye Rathana Thera and many civil society representatives. The movement culminated in the last presidential election and became a key promise in the campaign of Hon. Maitripala Sirisena.
The main constitutional proposals of the 19th Amendment include the transformation of the Presidential form of government to a Presidential-Parliamentary system of government and the restoration of the 17th Amendment to the Constitution.
The transformation of these proposals into the 19th Amendment is the most important exercise faced by the new government.