Jan 01, 2017

Mangala says referendum on new constitution will be won Featured

Cabinet colleagues Patali Champika Ranawaka and Mangala Samaraweera are having opposing views on the outcome of a referendum this year on the proposed new constitution.

Ranawaka says the vote will be defeated and prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe will have to give up his position, in which he terms as a political conspiracy to oust him.

Both the British and Italian PMs had to leave office due to their having given no regard to the prevailing political situations, he claims.

Ranawaka goes onto say that 2017 will be a year of clashes of philosophies, including the Europe’s abandoning liberalism and embracing nationalism and building economic nationalism in place of globalization.

He says the Sri Lankan government should think deeply about a future in which China will be the leader in globalization.

Therefore, instead of a constitution that devolves powers, only amendments to the existing one including an electoral system agreeable to all and other minor changes should be effected, says Ranawaka.

Two-third majority not possible

The J.R. Jayewardena regime had the power to do anything due to its five-sixth majority, but PM Wickremesinghe cannot even command a simple majority of 113 seats in parliament, leaving alone a two-third majority, he notes.

Only a handful in the UNP is adamant on introducing a new constitution, although even the PM notes that is not possible, he says.

After failing to get the VAT amendment bill passed, the government cannot bring in the draft bill on the super minister either, he stresses.

UNP general secretary Kabir Hashim has told party supporters that a referendum on a new constitution would be defeated, while SLFP’s S.B. Dissanayake has said his party would agree only for the 20th amendment to revise the electoral system.

President’s firm stand

However, Samaraweera is of the view that the government will definitely emerge victorious at a referendum.

He points out that even president Maithripala Sirisena stands for holding a referendum on a new constitution to share powers, adding that all the forces that contributed to the January 08 regime change will rally round it.

A win will be all the more possible due to the opposing forces then now being on the side of the president, he notes.

There will be no other opportunity to introduce a new constitution if the one available under this coalition government is not made use of, Samaraweera stresses.