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cabinet: Lankan PM to present 21st Amendment on curbing President’s powers


COLOMBO: Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe plans to present the key 21st Amendment to the Constitution before the Cabinet next week, after holding wide-ranging discussions with the Attorney General and top lawmakers, a media report said on Thursday.
The 21st Amendment is expected to annul the 20A in the Constitution, which gives unfettered powers to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa after abolishing the 19th Amendment that will strengthen Parliament.
MPs Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe and Susil Premajayantha will examine the clauses of the 21st Amendment, and will finalise an updated version of the 19th Amendment before presenting it to the Cabinet next week, online news portal Daily Mirror reported.
Meanwhile, Wickremesinghe held closed-door meetings with members of Sri Lanka Freedom Party and Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna as well as certain MPs from the main opposition party Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) over cabinet formation, according to the Daily Mirror.
SJB on Monday said it would offer conditional support to the interim all-party government headed by Wickremesinghe to help tackle the country’s crippling economic and political crisis.
Wickremesinghe, 73, the United National Party leader was appointed as Sri Lanka’s 26th prime minister earlier this month after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s elder brother and prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned after violence erupted following an attack on the anti-government protesters by his supporters.
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.
In his 2019 presidential bid, Gotabaya Rajapaksa won a convincing mandate for a presidency during which he sought full presidential powers over Parliament.
Sri Lanka is grappling with an unprecedented economic turmoil since its independence from Britain in 1948.
A crippling shortage of foreign reserves has led to long queues for fuel, cooking gas and other essentials while power cuts and soaring food prices heaped misery on the people.
Crisis-hit Sri Lanka on Wednesday revealed that it does not have foreign exchange to pay for a vessel of petrol anchored in its waters for nearly two months as it appealed to citizens “not to wait in line” for fuel.
The economic crisis also triggered a political crisis in Sri Lanka and a demand for the resignation of the powerful Rajapaksas.





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