MP Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe intends to present a Bill to Parliament to enable the President to hold the Defence Ministry or any other ministries he wishes. The Bill aims to return several powers including the ability to ignore the Constitutional Council when making key decisions that were introduced by the 19th Amendment. Rajapakshe is expected to present the Bill in the coming days.
The proposed Bill expects to amend Article 43 of the Constitution. The Bill has been named as the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution and is already gazetted.
Speaking to media at the SLPP head office, Transport Services State Minister Dilum Amunugama said the SLPP parliamentarian’s group meeting is scheduled to be held today at Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s residence.
“The SLPP did not take a final decision on the proposed Bill. The matter will be discussed with the participation of senior members of the SLPP. Once the group has decided how to proceed we will announce our plans to the public,” Amunugama said. Meanwhile, SLPP Chairman Prof. G.L. Peiris argued it was constitutional for the President to hold the Defence Ministry despite the passage of the 19th Amendment as national security remains the responsibility of the President and it is impossible to ensure this without control of the Defence Ministry.
“The SLPP’s stance has not changed. We firmly believe that the President should hold the Defence Ministry,” he said.
Prof. Peiris noted the Government expects to get two-thirds majority in the forthcoming General Election, likely to be held in April. He said if the SLPP receives two-thirds majority they will amend the 19th Amendment or do away with it altogether.