One of the main demands of Sri Lanka’s protestors demanding for political reforms and remedies to the nation’s worst economic crisis was that a constitutional amendment bill that would limit the authority of the president be filed to Parliament on Wednesday.
The bill, which was introduced by Justice Minister Wijayadasa Rajapakshe, would give a constitutional council made up of lawmakers and reputable non-political individuals some presidential powers, including those to appoint independent election commission members, police and public service officials, and bribery and corruption investigators. The president would then be given a list of candidates the council recommends for these positions.
The president could only nominate a chief justice, other senior judges, an attorney general, and a central bank governor under the proposed revisions if the council recommends it. The president would not be permitted to hold any ministry positions other than defence, and the prime minister would suggest candidates to the Cabinet.
To become a law, the bill needs receive the support of two-thirds of the 225 members of Sri Lanka’s Parliament.
The revisions, if enacted into law, would bring back the 2015 democratic reforms. After being elected to office in 2019, Gotabaya Rajapaksa reversed these changes and centralised power in his own hands until being overthrown as president by irate protests last month.
In response to the demands of the demonstrators, Rajapaksa’s successor, President Ranil Wickremesinghe, has pledged to restrict the presidency’s authority and strengthen Parliament.
For the past four months, Sri Lankans have participated in large-scale public demonstrations calling for democratic reforms and answers to the nation’s economic crisis.
Protesters accuse the Rajapaksa family of being corrupt and mismanaging the economy, which has caused severe shortages of necessities including petrol, food, and medication.
The island government is negotiating a bailout plan with the International Monetary Fund.