Proposed Constitutional Amendments: Unlimited presidential terms; police comm. scrapped Con. Council replaced with Advisory Committee

The Island – By Franklin R. Satyapalan (Pix – Reuters)

The Cabinet yesterday unanimously approved constitutional amendments proposed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Among them is an amendment aimed at doing away with the 10-member Constitutional Council and replacing it with a five-member Constitutional Advisory Committee (CAC). The government intends to retain all independent commissions established under the 17th Amendment except the Independent Police Commission.

The government seeks to scrap Article 31 (2), which restricts the number of terms an elected executive president could serve to two. According to the proposed amendment, an elected president can contest and get elected any number of times.

Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratne tabled the Cabinet memorandum containing constitutional amendments yesterday morning.

The CAC will survive the dissolution of Parliament and continue to function notwithstanding the formation of a new government.

President Rajapaksa had referred the constitutional amendments to be presented to Parliament as an urgent Bill to the Supreme Court yesterday itself for an opinion which was expected within 72 hours, sources said.

The package of constitutional amendments will be presented to the SLFP’s 59th convention to be held under the aegis of President Rajapaksa at Temple Trees on Sept. 2, according to sources.

The proposed five-member CAC is to be appointed, in consultation with the President, by the Prime Minister, the Speaker and the Opposition Leader. Three of them will appoint one member each to the CAC. The Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader will nominate the remaining two members to represent the minorities.

The power of appointments, transfers and promotions in the Public Service will be vested with secretaries to ministries who are to decide on such matters in consultation with the Public service Commission (PSC).

The Independent Police Commission would cease to exist upon the implementation of the proposed constitutional amendments and the Police Service will function under the Inspector General of Police.