Mahinda hits out at ‘toxic’ constitutional provisions in Sajith’s manifesto
Posted on November 6th, 2019

Courtesy Adaderana

Leader of the Opposition Mahinda Rajapaksa claims that like the draft Constitution, the UNP presidential election manifesto also aims to turn Sri Lanka into a loose federation of virtually independent provincial units.

He stated that the chapter on constitutional reform in the manifesto of the UNP presidential candidate contains provisions to replace the unitary state with a formulation that describes Sri Lanka as an ‘undivided and indivisible’ state. 

This is accompanied by the pledge that governmental power will be devolved to the provinces to the ‘maximum extent possible’. Identical provisions can be seen in the draft constitution tabled in Parliament by the Prime Minister in January this year,” he said. 

He charged that the UNP manifesto also contains provisions to expand the powers and functions of the provincial councils, to set up a second chamber in Parliament made up of provincial council representatives in order to curb the powers of Parliament, to allow the provincial units to raise funds independently, to place district and divisional secretaries under the provincial councils and to create a Constitutional Court which will adjudicate in disputes between the center and the provincial units. 

Like the draft constitution, the UNP presidential election manifesto also aims to turn Sri Lanka into a loose federation of virtually independent provincial units.”

He said that former Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran has rejected devious and dishonest attempts play around with words to convey different meanings to different persons in the UNP manifesto. 

He said significantly, the UNP manifesto has refused to use even the Sinhala phrase ‘ekeeya rajya’ that had been conceded earlier in the PM’s draft constitution to assuage Sinhala sentiments. 

There is a clearly apparent hardening of the federalist position in the UNP manifesto,” he alleged.

Rajapaksa charged that the UNP manifesto with its toxic constitutional provisions” was presented with much fanfare to the Venerable Mahanayake and Anunayake Theras in order to deceive both the Maha Sangha and the general public.

This is the first time that a mainline political party has included in an election manifesto provisions to dismantle the unitary state and to create a federal state in its place. Therefore this is a matter that needs to be taken very seriously,” he said.

Regardless of the contents of the manifesto that has already been released, I earnestly request the Venenerable Mahanayake Theras of the Three Nikayas to obtain from the UNP candidate, a written pledge to uphold the unitary state, to oppose federalism and to oppose all the proposals contained in the draft constitution tabled in Parliament by the Prime Minister earlier this year.”  

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