65% of Executive President's power reduced - 19 A committee head
A media conference was held at the Department of Information today to educate the public regarding the changes that have taken place under the 19th Amendment.
Addressing the media, President Counsel Jayampathi Wickramarathna, the Head of the Committee which prepared the 19th Constitutional Amendment Draft Bill, stated that 60% to 65% of powers of the post of the Executive President have been reduced by the new amendment.
At the same time, Deputy Foreign Minister Ajith P. Perera stated that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa put his full weight through his favorite MPs to defeat the move until the last moment.
As full impunity enjoyed by previous Presidents has been limited by the 19th Amendment, a fundamental case could be filed against an official act of the current President.
However, the President will enjoy the powers further as the Head of State, Head of the Executive, Head of the Government, Head of the Cabinet as well as the Commander of the Security Forces.
The term of office of a president has been reduced to 5 years from the previous 6 years, while a President cannot dissolve parliament on his or her own accord until the parliament completes a term of 4.5 years since inauguration.
In addition, the President will appoint a Prime Minister after considering the MP who has won the trust of the majority.
The President also cannot remove a Prime Minister from his position except by a no confidence motion passed in parliament with the simple majority.
However, in the event, either the government manifesto or the budget is defeated, the entire Cabinet, including the Prime Minister would lose their posts, and the president would appoint a new MP to the Prime Minister’s post and name a new Cabinet as well.
The President would consult the Prime Minister to appoint Cabinet Ministers, State Ministers and Deputy Ministers. The number of Cabinet Ministers has been limited to 30 while the number of State Ministers and Deputy Ministers has been limited to 40.
A President can stay in office for two terms, while candidates should complete 35 years to qualify to contest for a presidential election.
If the post of Executive President falls vacant, the Prime Minister would automatically become the acting President. The Previous Clause which cited that a MP would be elected to the President’s post has not been changed in the 19th Amendment.
At the same time, a person who holds dual citizenship is disqualified to contest for a parliamentary election under the 19th Amendment.
The right to information has been made a fundamental right under the 19th Amendment, and this would be fully implemented after the Right to Information Draft Bill is passed in parliament.
President Counsel Jayampathi Wickramarathna further said that he is satisfied the ability to get the new bill passed at least with these changes.