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Sri Lanka mulls amendment to clip President’s ‘unfettered’ powers

Colombo, May 22

Sri Lanka’s Minister of Justice has said the 21st Amendment to the Constitution will be referred to the Cabinet for approval on Monday, a media report said on Sunday, paving the way to curb the unfettered powers of embattled President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

The 21st Amendment is expected to annul the 20A which gave unfettered powers to the President after abolishing the 19th Amendment which had made Parliament powerful over the President. The amendment would make it impossible for those with dual citizenship to hold a seat in Parliament, media reports quoted Minister of Justice Dr Wijayadasa Rajapaksa as saying.

Cabinet nod likely

Amendment to annul provisions that gave unfettered powers to President
Will make impossible for those with dual citizenship to hold a seat in Parliament

President Gotabaya, who is facing growing demand for his resignation for “mismanaging” the country’s economy, had relinquished his US citizenship in April 2019, before contesting the presidential elections.

Wijeyadasa Rajapaksa said the 21st Amendment sought to further strengthen the powers of the existing commissions and to make them independent as well.

He said the new amendment also proposed for the appointment of Governor of the Central Bank to come under the Constitutional Council. The powerful Rajapaksa family tightened their grip on power after their massive victory in the general elections in August 2020, which allowed them to amend the Constitution to restore presidential powers and install close family members in key positions.

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