Sri Lanka

That perennial debate on the executive presidency!

Jan 18, 2017
Few institutions in this country are as vilified as the executive presidency. The SLFP has been campaigning to abolish it since the very first day it was introduced under the 1978 Constitution. However, after they were elected to power, SLFP leaders did anything but abolishing the executive presidency. Chandrika Kumaratunga won a landmark election victory in 1994, promising to abolish the executive presidency within 100 days and she completed her two lukewarm terms and retired in 2005. Mahinda Rajapaksa promised the same. At least he ended the war (making use of the extensive powers accorded to him by virtue of the office), but could not satiate himself with two terms. He changed the Constitution to serve himself with a presidency for life. Save J.R. Jayawardene who drafted the 1978 Constitution to be in line with his personal and political ambitions (and later tampered with it habitually). Mahinda Rajapaksa was the only politician who changed the country’s Constitution to fit into his whims and fancies. Even R. Premadasa who was demeaned during his time being a ‘one man show’ never stooped that low. 
The only executive president in this country who voluntarily gave up a portion of powers in his office was Maithripala Sirisena. During his administration, the Constitutional Council was reactivated under the 19th Amendment and the power of the president to dissolve Parliament after one year was removed. President Kumaratunga conceded to set up the Constitutional Council under the 17th Amendment, but was forced to do so by the JVP as a precondition for her probationary government with the JVP. Hers does not count as an act of altruism. 
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Daily Mirror, January 17, 2017

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