ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, April 01, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 44

SLFP to propose abolition of executive presidency

By Shelani Perera

The abolition of the executive presidency is one of the main features in the SLFP’s proposals to be handed over to the All Party Representative Committee (APRC) which is studying a political solution to the ethnic conflict.

On Friday, the SLFP Central Committee met to discuss the amendments to the proposals and decided to meet again on Tuesday for further discussions, Minister John Seneviratne said.

“We agreed that we should go back to the parliamentary system, giving more powers to the Prime Minister,” he said.

The proposals were to be handed over two weeks ago but the party decided to defer it as members wanted to make amendments.

Although the SLFP proposals call for the abolition of the executive presidency, the Parliamentary Select Committee on Electoral Reforms this week turned down proposals submitted by the UNP, the JVP and the TNA to trim the powers of the executive president. The UNP which earlier did not agree on the composition of Parliament submitted five fresh proposals to be included in the electoral reforms, following discussions with the JVP and the TNA.

Selelct Committee chairman Dinesh Gunerwardene turned down the request saying that Parliament had not vested such powers on the Committee to deal with such issues.

Last week the Select Committee in a letter to Chief Opposition Whip Joseph Michel Perera said it was unfortunate that the UNP should bring up these issues at the final stages.Mr. Gunerwardene said that of the five proposals put forward by the UNP, the Committee had dealt with three — the reintroduction of the ward system for local government elections, the re-demarcation of electoral boundaries by a fresh delimitation committee and a mixed system of the First Past the Post and Proportional Representation system.

“We informed the UNP, the Select Committee will be meeting next week to take a decision. If they feel that we can finalise the report we will do it, as we have already dealt with three of the issues raised by the UNP,” Mr. Gunewardene said.

Earlier the UNP expressed reservations on the composition of the new parliament. The Select Committee suggested that the 225 seats in Parliament to return to 150 members through FPP system, 72 through PR on district basis, three on national-level PR allocated for unrepresented minor parties. However the UNP had suggested that a total of 125 elected MPs from the FPP and a 100 members from the PR system.

Chief Opposition Whip Joseph Michael Perera told The Sunday Times the main reason for the UNP to suggest reforms for the executive presidency was the parties felt the existing laws paved the way for dictatorship.

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