Sri Lanka amends constitution to limit president’s powers

Colombo, Oct 21 (EFE).- The Sri Lankan parliament on Friday approved a constitutional amendment to limit the presidential prerogatives and grant more control to the legislature, even as the country tries to come out of its worst economic crisis since independence.

The reform, which had been promised by President Ranil Wickremesinghe, was passed with 174 votes in its favor and one against.

The amendment to a large extent reverses the changes brought by former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa during his term, which had granted sweeping powers to the presidency, before he was forced to resign and flee the country in July due to widespread street protests.

Specifically, the reform brings the president and cabinet back under the control of the parliament, and reinstates independent commissions, including one on corruption, which had been disbanded by Rajapaksa.

“I consider this an interim step in what must be a full change of a failed constitution which has undergone as up to date 21 amendments within a 40-year period,” political analyst Aruna Kulatunga told EFE.

He insisted that the constitution had become a “hodgepodge” of inconsistent and unconnected sentences which confuses even the Supreme Court.

For months, Sri Lanka has been going through its worst economic crisis since independence from Britain in 1948, with high inflation aggravating the crisis triggered by the drying up of foreign currency reserves, which forced the government to default on its foreign debt payments in May and negotiate a bailout with IMF that is yet to materialize.

The crisis triggered caused severe shortages of fuel and basic products and triggeredwidespread protests in late March, with thousands of people coming out on the streets to demand the resignation of Rajapaksa, the president at the time.

Protesters had stormed the presidential secretariat on Jul. 9 along with the residences of the president and then prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, forcing Rajapaksa to flee the country and subsequently resign from his post. EFE


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