Sept 22, Colombo: The Minister of Justice Ali Sabry presented the Bill entitled “Twentieth Amendment to the Constitution” to amend the Constitution of Sri Lanka to Parliament today (September 22) amid the protests from the Opposition.
The main opposition party, Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) protested the Bill which grants more powers to the President repealing the 19th Amendment which strengthened the role of the parliament and curbed the powers of the Executive President.
Even before the bill was presented, Members of SJB in parliament wearing black arm bands and holding placards, came to the center of the House and protested saying, "No 20” while the ruling party members also came to the center and protested in support of the bill saying 'No 19'.
Leader of Opposition and SJB Sajith Premadasa said, "Today is a dark day for democracy."
Several key clauses in the 19th Amendment have been repealed in the 20th Amendment giving more power to the President. The draft 20th Amendment proposes to restore full legal immunity to the President, removing the provisions made in the 19th amendment to take legal action against the President.
Following the presentation of the Bill, any citizen has the opportunity to file a petition against it in Supreme Court within seven days. Also, if any party challenges the 20th Amendment within the relevant period, the Supreme Court must submit its decision within 21 days from the date of filing the petition.
According to the Attorney General, the bill needs only a two-third majority to be passed in parliament and the government has the required majority with the 145 seats won by the ruling party Sri Lanka's Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) at the August 5 parliamentary elections and the support of six allies in the 225-member parliament.