Restoration of Authority of the President
Posted on September 28th, 2020

Palitha Mapatuna

Paradoxically, the contention in some quarters seems to be that  restoration of the authority of the president to that held prior to the 19th amendment to the constitution would now amount to an infringement of the sovereignty of the people. 

In any case, the president is directly elected by the country and, as such, may be seen as the principal repository of the sovereignty of the people.

In contrast, parliament most likely would consist of diverse groups with diverse wants and, hence, lack cohesiveness to be regarded as representing such sovereignty to the extent that the president does. 

That this is the case seems implied by the fact that the constitution itself  designates the president as the head of the state.

Early in the term of the previous regime, popular resentment towards that regime seemed  evident; results of the delayed local government elections (2018) and the extent of its defeats in subsequent presidential and parliamentary elections confirmed this.

An earlier dissolution of parliament seemed in order, but was prevented by the 19th amendment.

Ironically, the very legitimacy of the 19th amendment is doubtful; it sought to make fundamental changes in the constitutional authority of the president, without being subjected to ratification and validation by the people at a referendum.

Nevertheless, the position in some quarters today seems to be that the discontinuation of those apparently illegitimate changes needs a referendum! 

Strangely and hypocritically, those who ignored the people earlier now seem to be saying ‘let us ask the people’!

Palitha Mapatuna

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