President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government will present the 19th Amendment to the Constitution as an urgent bill to Parliament next week to repeal provisions in the 13th amendment that permit the merger of one or more provinces, Media Minister and cabinet spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said today.
The cabinet of ministers that met today has decided to refer the second amendment proposed to a Parliamentary Select Committee that will be set up by the Speaker next week following stiff resistance to the moves by political parties within the ruling UPFA alliance.
Minister Rambukwella said the fresh PSC process would be time bound and speedy to ensure it did not interfere with or delay the provincial council elections scheduled for September in the North. The Minister said the Government believed the repeal of the demerger clause was critical because the merger of provinces could pose a threat to the authority of the central government. He said the UPFA was confident of obtaining the two thirds majority required to pass the constitutional amendment.
The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress and the Socialist Alliance comprising the Communist party, the LSSP and the DLF led by Vasudeva Nanayakkara have officially opposed both proposals brought to the cabinet to dilute the provisions of 13A last week. The SLMC and the parties of the Old Left are unlikely to support the Government’s urgent bill to repeal the merger clauses, sources told Colombo Telegraph.