Sri Lanka prime minister vows democracy after authoritarian past
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Tuesday said the new government will restore democratic checks and balances after a decade of increasingly authoritarian rule under former president Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Under Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka lost the support of Western governments and India and was increasingly reliant on close ties with China, which did not question his steady strengthening of presidential power and the diminishing role of parliament.
Riding a wave of popularity for winning a 26-year war against Tamil Tiger separatists in 2009, Rajapaksa amended the constitution to remove a two-term limit and abolish independent commissions for elections, the police, judiciary and public service.
“We will replace the present executive presidency with a government which will exercise executive power with cabinet and parliament,” Wickremesinghe told parliament, in a speech laying out the new government’s 100-day programme.
Wickremesinghe, 65, said the constitution would be amended to give powers to independent bodies that will act as watchdogs over the judiciary and other public bodies, a move to limit presidential authority.
The new government will abolish Rajapaksa’s 2010 amendment and enact a Right to Information Act and a National Audit Act to increase transparency, after complaints that Rajapaksa signed deals worth hundreds of millions of dollars with China without informing the nation of the terms.
The constitutional amendment needs a two-thirds parliament majority. President Maithripala Sirisena, who also succeeded Rajapaksa as the chairman of Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), has secured the support of around 100 former Rajapaksa loyalists in the 225-member parliament.
Sirisena, after announcing an interim cabinet Jan. 12, said he would carry out reforms to fight corruption in the 100 days to a parliamentary election.
Delivering the manifesto promises is crucial for Sirisena’s ruling coalition party members as they will seek a fresh six-year mandate through a parliamentary election after April 23.
Rajapaksa’s own party members now say the former leader used his executive powers along with his bothers, Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa, in an authoritarian manner. His government oversaw fast growth and low inflation but was brought down by allegations of corruption and nepotism.
Rajapaksa has rejected the accusations.
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This’s not the 1st time of your vow vow vows….! What did you do when you were in same position before? Are you going to do the next wonder by restoring the past miserable situation again under the influence of westerns?
The question is how long will Ranil have to keep his promises. If the UNP looses the next general election( which I am sure they will as the UNP is a dying party)then he will be in the back ground again sucking up to the President as he did for so may years.I do not think Ranil understands that the westerners will eventually try to tell him how to run the country and where we should have our Army camps in our own country.
AS for the Rajapakse’s ex party members who are now pointing the finger at MR they are either crooks them selves or did not have the balls to tell MR he was a crook. WASI PATHTHATA HOYYA as thet say in Sinhalese. First thing we need to do is not to enrol frogs in to politics so that the politicians can make up their minds who and what they want to be.Unfortunately even our current president also falls in to the same category as he jumped fences after being with MR (who was supposed to be so bad and corrupt) when it suited him. How ever I think he will do decscent job. We must give him a chance to prove himself and time will tell.
I was at the university when his uncle JRJ, him and killer gangs coming in green Pajeros without number plates in power. Amazing how quickly SL voters memory fade. Remember bodies burning on tyres????
I fully agree with Blogs 1,2 and 3. I would like to add that SL faces immense danger from the current govt plan to align itself with the imperial West and move away from the ambit of China, who has been a tremendous help in the building of our infra-structure and the economy.
India has been a horrible enemy of SL from ancient times and has continued to be so after the end of British colonialism. India treats SL as its colony and exploits SL wholesale. India has its own militant separatist problems in several States. J & K is 95% Muslim and should have been part of Pakistan, but Britain divided India and Pakistan in such a way to create a political problem.
India has committed many crimes against humanity and war crimes. But the UN and the West keep mum about it as they do re. Israel, since they want the backing of India for US aspiration to dominate SE Asia and the Indian Ocean against China. That is why Obama is visiting India in the near future. I hope China will build up its Defence Forces and arms to counter USA and the West and restore balance.
Indian politicians are utterly corrupt and our goons ape them. Their black money is hoarded in Swiss accounts. 80% of India’s population are utterly poor and desperate. Does the current corrupt govt want to go down the same road pretending to be utterly clean.
When another Indian government come to existence like the previous one which was dictated by the Tamilnadu politicians, what is the pathetic current Sri Lankan politicians and those who give power to them going to do? We have seen what happened. It had been even two years, isn’t it??????