Sri Lanka's political circle has gone into a quandary after information has spread that moves are underway to abolish the executive presidency before the Presidential Election next year as no candidate or political party will be able to secure an over 50 percent win at the polls.
The Daily Mirror learns that discussions to this effect have already been held by President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe has already drafted a cabinet paper to change the electoral system.
This cabinet paper is part of the step which might eventually lead to a public referendum being called to see if the Executive Presidency should be abolished and Parliament being further strengthened with an executive prime minister.
However the main political parties, after hearing of such moves have already begun holding internal discussions with most of them stating that they will object to such a move when it is raised in Parliament.
The main SLPP is of the view that the Executive Presidency should continue at least till the 2025 General Elections are over as the current government has been elected on a mandate to continue with an executive President. "If this system is to be abolished, then it should be after the 2025 General election once a new government is in place" a top SLPP source told Daily Mirror.
The Daily Mirror learns that the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) who have always called for an abolishment of the Executive Presidency will also oppose this move once it is brought to Parliament as the JVP is also of the view that this matter must be raised once a new government is in place after the 2025 General Election. "The next government will come in with the people's mandate so till then we cannot decide to abolish the Executive Presidency. Any moves before that will be unsuccessful," a senior JVP MP said.
The main opposition, the Samagi Jana Balawegaya have also begun discussions on the matter and are very likely to oppose it, maintaining the same stance that a new government has to be first elected in the 2025 Parliamentary Election in order to vote for the abolishment of the Executive Presidency.
Meanwhile, according to senior Parliamentarians, rumors are rife that once the cabinet paper on the changes to the electoral reform come through, and if the political environment is right, discussions will be held within the higher circles to call for a public referendum with the President's consent as it is only the President who can call for a public referendum according to law.
Based on the results of the referendum the matter will then be brought to Parliament to gain a two thirds majority for the abolishment of the Executive Presidency. If this happens, then the Presidential Election which is expected to be held in November 2024, is likely to be postponed if the necessary amendments are made to the legislation.
Following the economic crisis which erupted in nationwide protests last year, it is unlikely that any political party will gain over 50 percent win in the Presidential or Parliamentary Polls. With the Supreme Court's recent historical verdict to expel Nazeer Ahamed after he left the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress and accepted the post of Environment Minister in the government, the Daily Mirror learns that the SLPP is getting ready to file court cases against those who left the government and are now seated in the opposition. If the court rules in favor of the SLPP, then at least four MPs are likely to lose their seats with the SLPP being able to fill it in with their members.
With 2024 and 2025 being crucial years for Sri Lanka with the Presidential and Parliamentary polls, it is now to be seen if the information spreading among the political circles is implemented with the executive presidency being abolished in the coming months. Only time will tell.
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