Constitutional amendment to curb Presidential powers | Sri Lankan PM Ranil Wickremesinghe to discuss with Attorney General

The 21st Amendment is expected to annul the 20A which gave unfettered powers to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa after abolishing the 19th Amendment

May 16, 2022 01:33 pm | Updated 01:33 pm IST - Colombo

Former Prime Minister of Sri Lanka Ranil Wickremesinghe. File

Former Prime Minister of Sri Lanka Ranil Wickremesinghe. File | Photo Credit: G. P. Sampath Kumar

Sri Lanka's new Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has said that the 21st Amendment to the Constitution to curb the Presidential powers will be discussed with the Attorney General’s Department on May 16 so that it can be submitted to the Cabinet for approval.

The 21st Amendment is expected to annul the 20A which gave unfettered powers to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa after abolishing the 19th Amendment which had made Parliament powerful over the President. The first Cabinet meeting was held on Sunday. Special attention was paid to fuel imports at the meeting.

"21st Amendment: This will be taken up for discussion with the Attorney General's Department tomorrow (Monday) and then be presented to Cabinet for approval," Mr. Wickremesinghe tweeted.

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. Mr. Wickremesinghe, who on Sunday held discussions with representatives of the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank on the current economic crisis in the country, said the two financial institutions have pledged support to assist in procuring essential items such as medicine, food and fertilizer. He also outlined a plan to fulfil fuel requirements.

"Given the dollar scarcity at banks, we are exploring other options of securing the necessary funds to pay for the coming week’s fuel requirements," he tweeted.

“The government has secured payments for an LP Gas consignment which will begin to unload and distribute as early as possible,” he said. “Prime Minister Wickremesinghe is scheduled to make a special statement on Monday,” his office said.

A senior spokesman said the aim was to educate the public on the current political and economic situation in the country. According to Daily Mirror, an online news portal, a few more Cabinet Ministers of the new government are slated to be sworn-in on Monday.

“President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is planning for the appointment of 18 Ministers in addition to himself and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe,” it said. Besides, there will be 30 state Ministers. Four Ministers have already been sworn-in.

According to the report, ten slots will be reserved for lawmakers of the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP). 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. The economic crisis also triggered a political crisis in Sri Lanka and a demand for the resignation of the powerful Rajapaksas.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa sacked his Cabinet and appointed a younger Cabinet as a response to the demand for his resignation. A continuous protest opposite his secretariat has now gone on for well over a month.

Last Monday, Gotabaya Rajapaksa's elder brother Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned as the Prime Minister to make way for the President to appoint an interim all political party government. Mr. Wickremesinghe was appointed the country's new Prime Minister on Thursday.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.