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13A : UNP agreeable to ‘practical’ amendments

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The UNP was opposed to the abolition of the 13th Amendment, but if the government wanted to make any changes, it should ensure a proper alternative to the Provincial Councils system, the UNP said yesterday.

As the 13th Amendment was rushed through parliament, following the 1987 Indo–Lanka Accord, certain shortcomings had crept in and they needed to be rectified. But, the Amendment as a whole should not be repealed, UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake told a news conference in Colombo. He said that changes, if any, should be practical and they should not seek to nullify the concept of devolution.

While noting that the supremacy of parliament should prevail at all times, Attanayake said that devolution was necessary for the smooth functioning of areas which were far removed from the centre.

However, he stressed that any discussions on the amendments to the Constitution should necessarily involve the future of the executive presidency, the electoral system and re-establishment of the Independent Public, Police, Elections, Judicial Service and Bribery and Commissions, which were abolished by the 18th Amendment.

Attanayake said that the UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, he said, had explained his party’s position on constitutional reforms when National Freedom Front leader and Housing Minister Wimal Weerawansa met him at the Opposition leader’s Office in Parliament, last week.

The talks had been held at Weerawansa’s request and the UNP had, at no stage, agreed to the abolition of the 13th Amendment if the executive presidency was scrapped, he noted.

"When Weerawansa called for amendments to the 13th Amendment, Wickremesinghe asked him what he had to say about the pledges given by President Mahinda Rajapaksa to India that the 13th Amendment would be implemented in full. Weerawansa replied that it was the government view and he was talking about the position of his party the NFF. Wickremesinghe then said that any discussion on amending the 13th Amendment should include the future of the executive presidency, the electoral system and re-establishment of the Public, Police, Elections, Judicial Service and Bribery and Corruption Commissions, which had been scrapped with the introduction of the 18th Amendment."

~www.island.lk ~ By by Zacki Jabbar

 

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