• Saturday, Oct 31, 2020
  • Last Update : 12:15 am

Sri Lanka unveils controversial bill handing more power to president

  • Published at 07:36 pm September 22nd, 2020
web-Gotabaya Rajapaksa, middle, Sri Lanka\
File photo: Gotabaya Rajapaksa, middle, Sri Lanka People's Front party presidential election candidate and former wartime defence chief, with his brothers are seen as they leave after handing over nomination papers at the election commission ahead of Sri Lanka's presidential election, scheduled for November 16 in Colombo, Sri Lanka on October 7, 2019 Reuters

Gotabaya, a defence official during his elder brother Mahinda's decade-long term as president, was elected president in November and swiftly appointed Mahinda as prime minister

Sri Lanka's ruling party on Tuesday unveiled a constitutional amendment handing unprecedented power to the president, prompting protests in parliament and opposition claims of a power-grab.

The bill proposes the removal of legal and legislative oversight of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on human rights and government spending, and awards the head of state the right to appoint Supreme Court judges. 

It also re-instates the power of the president to sack parliament after it completes just one year of its five-year term and reverses legislation ensuring the judiciary, police, civil service and election commission remain independent branches of the government.

Gotabaya, a defence official during his elder brother Mahinda's decade-long term as president, was elected president in November and swiftly appointed Mahinda as prime minister.

The brothers are hugely popular among Sri Lanka's Sinhalese majority for crushing Tamil separatists in a no-holds-barred offensive in 2009, bringing an end to decades of bloody civil war.

But they have also attracted criticism from the international community, with the security services they controlled accused of committing war crimes in the final months of the conflict.

Neither Gotabaya or his brother commented on the bill on Tuesday, but the president said two weeks ago that it would "remove the obstacles imposed" by the reforms of the previous administration.

The Rajapaksas' party enjoys a two thirds majority in parliament, and the bill is likely to be passed.

Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa said this would result in "an elected dictatorship in this country."

"The parliament will become a puppet... This is the darkest day for democracy in the country," he told parliament as opposition legislators wore black armbands in protest.

The powerful Rajapaksa clan has held sway over the island nation's politics since 2005, as well as having a major influence in key state institutions such as the national airline and state corporations.

The UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet last week called for "renewed attention" to increasing intimidation of journalists, lawyers and rights activists in Sri Lanka.

Rajapaksa has meanwhile threatened to pull Sri Lanka out of the UN's human rights council if it persists in accusing Colombo of war crimes, including the killing of 40,000 Tamil civilians while crushing the rebels in 2009.

53
52
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail