Sri Lanka on Monday criticised the US for making adverse comments on the 18 th Amendment (18A) which added sweeping powers to President Mahinda Rajapksa besides doing away with term limits for the top executive office.
The US department of state had said it was ``concerned that this constitutional amendment weakens checks and balances and thus undermines the principles of constitutional democracy.’’
It added that the amendment eliminates term limits for the president and expands the power of the president over independent institutions, including the elections, police, and human rights commissions, as well as the judiciary.
``The US looks to the government to take measures that will strengthen democracy including appointing appropriately qualified officials to bolster independent institutions, increase transparency, enhance power sharing and dialogue, and promote national reconciliation,’’ the statement added.
In response, the Lankan Ministry of External Affairs said the passage of the Amendment was ``an entirely internal matter that moreover took place in full accord with the provisions of the Constitution.’’ The amendment was passed by the Lankan Parliament last week by an overwhelming majority of 161 to 17 votes.
It said that 18 A by introducing the necessary constitutional clarity revives the functioning of the Commissions sought to be covered by the 17thAmendment through a Parliamentary Council which importantly provides by the inclusion of Members of Parliament, for the salutary principle of accountability to the people.
``The Ministry of External Affairs therefore regrets that the US State Department comment has not been able to do justice to the true intent and circumstances behind the enactment of the 18th Amendment,’’ the statement added.
However, Opposition and rights groups have also criticised 18A as an anti-democratic move, saying it had taken Sri Lanka closer to a dictatorial rule.