21st Amendment presented to Cabinet

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The much-awaited 21st Amendment to the Constitution prepared by Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe was presented to the Cabinet yesterday (23) evening, following a meeting of the Constitution Amendment Drafting Committee.

The committee meeting was held on the same day.

In a video statement, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said, the Cabinet decided to present the copies of the amendment to party leaders in Parliament for further observations.

The amendment will be taken up for discussion again this Friday (27) and it will be sent back to Cabinet for final approval after that, the Premier added.

The 21st Amendment mainly focuses on reducing powers of the Executive Presidency and re-establishing independent commissions and the Constitutional Council that were introduced in the 19th Amendment. However, the increase in the number of Judges of the Superior Courts brought in by the 20th Amendment will not be touched.

According to the new amendment, Cabinet, non-Cabinet and State Ministers should be appointed based on the advice of the Prime Minister. A foreign citizen or a dual citizen will be barred from becoming a Parliamentarian once the amendment is passed.

The constitutional amendment will apply to the President and Prime Minister from the first day of its implementation.

Amid the crisis in the country, the political parties and civil society urged to reduce the powers of the Executive Presidency and give more powers to Parliament. It is also proposed to give a certain amount of powers to the Prime Minister to bring order and strengthen democratic institutions.

The Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) on 17 May presented the 21st Amendment to the Constitution to Parliament. Dr. Rajapakshe, who was an independent MP in the House at that time, also presented the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution.

Dr. Rajapakshe, after being appointed as the Justice Minister, presented his amendment to the Cabinet, as the 21st Amendment to the Constitution.