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President gave leadership to bring 19th Amendment – UNP MP

President Maithripala Sirisena at his Sworn In as sixth Executive President of Sri Lanka on 9 January 2015

Despite the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP)’s claim that the United National Party (UNP) had deceived the former through the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, it was SLFP Chairman President Maithripala Sirisena along with the UNP who gave the leadership to pass the amendment in parliament, UNP Parliamentarian Harshana Rajakaruna said.

Rajakaruna said that it was under the leadership of the late Maduluwawe Sobitha Thero that the campaign was launched to abolish the executive presidency and make changes to the constitution.

The main slogan when President Sirisena presented himself at the common candidate was the abolition of the 18th amendment and introduce the 19th amendment, said Rajakaruna, adding that Sirisena had referred to the passing of the amendment as a victory on numerous occasions.

“He even said at the United Nations meeting that he was the only president in the history to reduce the powers of the president while in power,” he said.

The main reason to bring the 19th amendment was that by the 18th amendment former President Mahinda Rajapaksa had eliminated term limits for the president.

“So that Mahinda Rajapaksa could be the president until he dies,” he added.

Through the 17th amendment, he siad, the powers vested with the independent commissions were given to the president.

“With the 19th amendment, we changed the provision that would’ve allowed a possibility of a life-long presidency and brought it back to two terms and divided the powers of the president between the parliament and independent commissions,” said Rajakaruna

He also said that those who now apologise to the nation for raising their hands for the 18th amendment and raised hands for the 19th amendment says that the 19th amendment is wrong.

“If there are shortcomings in the 19th amendment we could discuss it as the members the parliament and correct them, but abolishing it is not the solution,” he added.