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Sri Lanka’s draft for the new constitution will be ready for Parliament’s approval by early 2022

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President Rajapaksa had pledged that an expert committee had been appointed to prepare the draft (File)

Colombo:

Sri Lanka’s new constitution has been drafted and is expected to be ready for Parliament’s approval by early 2022, Foreign Minister GL Peiris said today.

Mr Peirce said that as promised by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in his presidential election manifesto in 2019, he has appointed a committee of experts to prepare the draft.

“This draft is now complete and waiting to be sent to the legal draftsman,” Mr Peirce said, hoping the final draft would be made available by the turn of the new year.

However, he did not elaborate on the nature of the new constitution.

Mr Peirce said that from mid-November, the 2022 budget will be presented by parliament by mid-December.

Describing the making of the Constitution as a complicated process, the Minister said that it needs to change with the changing times and needs of the people.

Sri Lanka has made several attempts in the past to change the current constitution. Since 1997, all such attempts, including the last in 2015, have been called off after months of deliberation.

In 2019, the ruling coalition was giving a stage speech about the abolition of the country’s provincial council system, which was mooted under the Thirteenth Amendment to the current constitution, adopted by India in 1978.

The 2017 Act would have to be amended like in 2018, Parliament had rejected the delimitation report that should have been approved with a two-thirds majority to make the new hybrid system legal.

Mr Rajapaksa’s election has since revoked the 19th Amendment, adopted in 2015, that had reduced the president’s powers by consolidating the functions of parliament.

However, he has shown no interest in holding provincial council elections for the nine provinces currently held, due to the need for legislative changes to the Provincial Council Act.

The Sri Lankan government said last week that long-pending provincial council elections in all nine of its provinces would not be possible unless the 2017 Act is amended in parliament.

Provincial elections have been postponed since 2017 because the then government (United National Party) first wanted to improve the process by introducing a new hybrid system of proportional representation from the past and the current system of proportional representation.

Mr Rajapaksa’s 2019 manifesto said a select committee would be appointed to “oversee provincial councils” among other areas of executive presidency, electoral reform and independence of the judiciary.

Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla, during his visit to the country earlier this month, reiterated India’s desire to hold provincial council elections at the earliest and give them full powers.

His visit started discussions on provincial council elections and parties expressed their desire to hold them.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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