Aug 15, 2019

Prez polls delayed until May? : Is Mahinda the candidate? Featured

The Presidential election may be postponed until May, according to political watchdogs.

The reason being that the 19th Amendment was gazette on May 15th, 2015 and as the president had been sworn in again thereafter; his term is deemed to be valid until May 15th.

It is also reported that the President has inquired from legal experts and legal sources regarding this issue.

Meanwhile, some legal experts are of the view that if a favourable response is received from the judiciary and as the 19th amendment would not have an effect on the past, Mahinda Rajapaksa could also regain the change of
contesting for presidency.

However, others are of the view that Maithripala Sirisena would get the opportunity as he had been sworn in again, but this would not imply to Mahinda Rajapaksa and Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge.

Social media has also attracted many comments regarding the calmness of the President in this regard. 

Instances where presidential powers was used

Over the four year period, there were several instances where President Sirisena had attempted to use his presidential powers.

Among them is the ousting of the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and replacing him with Mahinda Rajapaksa, dissolving parliament and taking over the Police Department under the Defence Ministry.

However, as the Supreme Court deemed it illegal to dissolve parliament prior to the completion of four years, the parliament was reconvened and Ranil Wickremesinghe was reinstated as the PM.

The 19th Amendment to the Constitution and the Executive Presidential powers

The initial draft of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution contained the provisions for the abolishment of the Executive Presidential powers and granting of powers to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet.

However, these clauses have been removed based on the Supreme Court verdict, while the Supreme Court deemed that although the 19th amendment draft was not in violation of the Constitution, in amending certain clauses
it was required to obtain 2/3rd majority in parliament and call for a referendum.

However, by the above mentioned amendments, the executive presidential powers were clipped to a certain extent.

President is answerable to parliament

The time frame of the president’s term was changed by the 19th amendment. While the president is answerable to parliament, the previous six year term has been reduced to five years. Further one person cannot serve for more
than two terms.

The provisions granting immunity to the president has been removed and the 19th amendment has made it possible to file fundamental rights charges against the president making the AG the respondent.

Further, the president’s powers pertaining to the establishment of Commissions for State Administration and power in appointing of the IGP and other such officials has also been clipped by the 19th amendment.