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New Constitution ignites furore in Parliament

New Constitution ignites furore in Parliament

A tense situation arose in the House yesterday when the Joint Opposition charged that a draft of the new Constitution had been presented at a seminar at the BMICH.

Leader of the Joint Opposition in Parliament, Dinesh Gunawardena, claimed that the Venerable Maha Nayake Theras had been startled at reports that Article 9 of the present Constitution, which confirms the status of Buddhism, had not been......included in the draft of the new Constitution.

"We have learnt that a draft of the new Constitution had been presented at a seminar at the BMICH where it was revealed that Article 9 of the present Constitution had been done away with" MP Gunawardena said.

Chief Opposition Whip, JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, said that if a draft of the Constitution was released at a seminar, it was wrong because the Steering Committee had yet to come to a final decision on any Draft Constitution. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, responding to the allegation, said that up to date only different summaries of various proposals which had been placed before the Steering Committee were available.

"The Steering Committee has not formulated a draft of the new Constitution so far. I will not allow the amendment of Article 9 as long as I remain the Chairman of the Steering Committee" the Prime Minister said.

However, MP Gunawardana then shot back that the Prime Minister could not deny there were some elements who made a proposal to amend Article 9 of the present Constitution.

"How can anyone deny this reality? How can the Cabinet Spokesman state that the Maha Nayake's need not worry when this is the reality of the situation?" the MP challenged, referring to statements made by Cabinet Spokesman Minister Rajitha Senaratne. Later on, the Prime Minister informed the House that he had made inquiries from the Steering Committee on the status of a draft of the new Constitution.

"I asked the Steering Committee and they have informed me that no draft had been released."

(Ceylon Today)

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