19a plotted to transfer powers from President to PM – 21a an attempt to do same
To understand this, it is imperative to look back to the regime change that took place in 2015 and the surprise common candidate fielded as President. Maithripala Sirisena was that surprise candidate as he harbored unfulfilled political ambition. His candidature was supported by the western bloc and over 52 foreign supported NGOs, TNA, JVP, Sarath Fonseka, CBK and of course Ranil Wickremasinghe, then Opposition Leader. Maithripala Sirisena was chosen common candidate solely because the regime change sponsors did not wish to risk putting RanilW & losing the elections. So Sirisena became the willing dummy to face Presidential Elections & he won. The US Secretary of State hailed the victory, signaling their role and a host of undemocratic acts took place with the appointment of the then Opposition Leader RanilW who had just 42 UNPers. RanilW was appointed as PM without removing the sitting PM immediately after Presidential Oath Taking ceremony. TNA who had just 16 seats were made Opposition while SLFP that had over 100 seats were ignored. Thereafter, Parliament was turned into a ‘national government’ which precipitated a flurry of cross overs. The so-called national government passed the 19a with all except MP Sarath Weerasekera voting against it. The same bandwagon that promoted 19a are canvassing for its return without changes in a hurriedly drafted 21a.
The real intent behind 19a needs to be brought to the surface as those singing hosannahs want that plot to be completed via 21a.
19a – unrevealed attempt to transfer powers of President to Prime Minister
The primary reason to chant that the powers of the President was all-powerful was mainly because the architects of the regime change did not intend to install Sirisena with the full powers of the President.
They knew that Ranil could never win a Presidential election, so the next best deal was to build a campaign that the President held too much powers & mentally prepare people to consider transferring it to the Prime Minister. It is important to note that transferring Presidential powers to the PM is not transferring powers to the Parliament.
19a simply wanted to pass powers from one (President) to another (Parliament).
If powers in one person is unacceptable, how can it be acceptable in the hands of another?
This attempt grossly ignored that the powers of the President came directly from the people who People elected whereas the People elect Parliamentary representatives among whom the PM is selected.
Thus, the main reason to claim 19a was to reduce powers of the President was in reality to use 19a to transfer powers to their favorite Ranil and create an Executive Prime Minister.
19a – insertion of age restriction & dual citizenship was to only target select individuals.
The next 2 insertions were with political intent. While we are all in agreement that the dual citizenship clause must prevail and should be applicable to senior public servants including their spouses, what 19a did not do was to single out the dual citizens that were hiding in Parliament. The so-called independent election commission did not make any attempt to even establish that all nominations clearly confirmed they were not dual citizens.
Thus the 19a dual citizenship clause was selective and was not meant to apply to other dual citizens in parliament.
19a – President could not dissolve Parliament.
This was a key insertion that would prevent the President taking action against the Prime Minister. 19a disallowed President to dissolve Parliament until 4 ½ years of the 5 year term and only with a 2/3 majority in Parliament. This too was usurping Presidential powers.
This looked to be a safety clause just in case any clashes arose between the President & PM, which did and resulted in the inability of the President to dissolve Parliament, though the President did dissolve Parliament in July 2015 to prevent COPE report being tabled against CBSL Governor ArjunM.
19a – President could not dismiss the Prime Minister.
Another 19a clause designed to protect the Prime Minister. Only Parliament could dismiss the Prime Minister. Again this was to ensure the will of the PM prevailed.
Recall the coterie that backed Sirisena-Ranil to power in 2015.
The same coterie are back & had been working both within government & behind the scenes to return Ranil to power. The same external backing prevailed but with a different twist.
Is it a surprise that they are demanding return of 19a which is nothing but an attempt to complete what could not be constitutionally completed during 2015-2020.
The 2015-2020 project could not be completed because Sirisena woke up from slumber, we are yet to see the sitting President wake up. Giving Premiership plus the Finance portal is not going in the right direction and the sitting President is advised to look back at what happened to Sirisena & how he handled matters.
Shenali D Waduge