Once bitten, twice shy: How Sri Lanka is limiting its President's powers

Updated on Sep 06, 2022 01:37 PM IST

Sri Lanka Political Crisis: The 22nd amendment could prove crucial as the Sri Lanka grapples with unprecedented economic and political crises.

Sri Lanka Political Crisis: Sri Lanka's President Ranil Wickremesinghe during an interview.(Reuters / FIle)
Sri Lanka Political Crisis: Sri Lanka's President Ranil Wickremesinghe during an interview.(Reuters / FIle)
ByMallika Soni

Sri Lanka’s top court ruled Tuesday that a bill seeking a 22nd amendment to the country's Constitution could be adopted with a two-thirds majority in Parliament. The parliament's Speaker said some clauses may require a national referendum. The bill is aimed at giving the parliament more power over the president by replacing Amendement 20A that gave ex president Gotabaya Rajapaksha immense power. The amendment could prove crucial as the island nation grapples with unprecedented economic and political crises.

Why is the amendment crucial?

The bill will reinstate independent commissions curbing some of the powers of the president. The bill also gives power to the prime minister and the cabinet over the president.

Thus, concentration of power will be reduced in one or two persons, which was one of the purposes of Amendment 20A brought forth by Rajapaksha. This was used to reduce the parliamentary council to 'rubber stamp powers'. Rajapaksa was ousted in mid-July after massive protests against him over mishandling of the country’s economy.

Additionally, the bill will also include anti-corruption features - a key demand of protesters.

Read more: China warns ‘third parties’ as vessel docks in Sri Lanka amid India's concerns

What happens next?

The bill will be presented in the Sri Lankan parliament for approval after which it must be approved by two-thirds of the country's 225-member Parliament in order to become law.

If passed, the amendments would reverse almost all changes made by Rajapaksha in 2019 when he was elected to office.

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