Sri Lanka limits president's powers

Sri Lanka's parliament has voted to curb the powers of the president and restore a two-term limit for incumbents

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Sri Lanka's parliament overwhelmingly passed reforms on Tuesday reducing some of the president's powers, as President Maithripala Sirisena had promised before the election.

Former leader Mahinda Rajapaksa, who suffered a shock defeat in elections in January, had expanded his powers. He amended the constitution to remove a two-term limit and abolish independent commissions for elections, the police, judiciary and public service.

Sirisena, a health minister in Rajapaksa's government, alleged Rajapaksa abused power and promised to abolish the executive powers of a president.

Deputies voted on Tuesday to remove the president's power to dissolve parliament until it has completed four-and-a-half years of its five-year term.

Before, the president had the power to sack parliament after only one year. But keep the rest of the executive powers over the cabinet of ministers intact.

Sirisena also ran into opposition over a plan to appoint a majority of independent members to a constitutional council, which in turn will re-establish the independent commissions to oversee various areas of governance.

The 10-member constitutional council will now have seven members of parliament and three independent members, instead of three legislators and seven independent members.

The reforms that were passed gained an overwhelming majority, 212 in favour, one against, in the 225-member parliament after a two-day debate.

TRTWorld and agencies