Sirisena does a U-turn, says it is the responsibility of the parliament to either abolish or retain the Executive Presidency
Deviating from his declared policy of abolishing the executive presidency, President Maithripla Sirisena in his inaugural address to the new parliament today said it was the legislature’s responsibility to decide on the fate of the much maligned\venerated, executive presidency.
In his first address to the 8th Parliament of Sri Lanka Sirisena said that he is unable to change the executive presidency on his own as the constitution is amended by the Parliament and therefore the process should happen through the parliament. However, Sirisena rode on the popular slogan of abolishing the executive presidency at the last Presidential election where he fought a bitter battle with the incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa and won.
In the past six months, although he could have obtained a 2\3 majority to abolish the Executive presidency Sirisena did not make any favourable moves.
According to some political analysts Sirisena’s comments showcase his desire to hang on to the executive presidency following on the footpaths of his SLFP predecessors Chandrika Bandranaike and Mahinda Rajapaksa who promised the same but never delivered.
Sirisena’s predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa was seeing listening to the President’s speech with a very obvious smirk in his face from the front row of the opposition benches in parliament in the company of erstwhile colleagues Dinesh Gunewardene and Nimal Siripala de Silva.
The other notable declared ambitions in a so-called abbreviated policy statement were the new government’s desire to combat fraud and corruption.
To the applause of government benches Sirisena stated that he would not hesitate to strengthen the existing mechanisms as well as introduce new ones in his quest to put a full stop to state-involved malpractices.
On the foreign policy, while declaring that the country had always looked to what was delivered from Geneva (in an obvious reference to human rights violation charges) before defining its stance in the past, Sirisena said his new unity government had made much headway in changing international opinion in the past six months.
He went on to suggest that the international community instead of taking up arms against Sri lanka was now taking a more positive approach while supporting its reconciliation and development efforts.
Sirisena also said that he would lay the red carpet to welcome the Diaspora who had fled the country in the face of war. In foreign policy Sirisena declared that the new national government will trod an Asian centered middle-path.
Meanwhile the United National Party (UNP) MP Karu Jayasuriya was unanimously elected as the Speaker of the 8th Parliament.
His name was proposed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and seconded by former opposition leader Nimal Siripala De Silva.
The First Session of the Parliament inaugurated today at 09.00 a.m.
UPFA MP Thilanga Sumathipala was appointed unanimously as the Deputy Speaker.
Also, UNP MP Lakshman Kiriella was appointed as the Leader of the House. Gayantha Karunatillake MP was appointed as the Government Chief Whip.
Selvam Adaikkalanathan of TNA, an MP from Vanni District, was appointed Deputy Chairman of Committees.