- UNP insists 19A important, does not want it scrapped
- Says willing to discuss with SLPP on changes and will back amendments with party approval
- Rajitha calls on Government to follow democratic path
The United National Party (UNP) yesterday stated they were ready to compromise on the 19th Amendment (19A), claiming that they are ready to discuss changes to it with the Government, and support any changes provided party approval is given.
UNP parliamentarian Lakshman Kiriella told a press conference that they were ready to discuss the 19th Amendment with the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) leadership and were amenable to changing it provided that the UNP approved of the changes.
UNP MPs Prof. Ashu Marasinghe, Rajitha Senaratne and General Secretary Akila Viraj Kariyawasam were also present at the press conference held at UNP headquarters in Kotte.
“We are ready to discuss changes to the 19th Amendment with the Government, if we see any weakness in it (19A), we are prepared to discuss possible changes with our party approval. However, this does not mean we are for scrapping the 19th Amendment,” Kiriella stated. He recalled that the 19A had passed through Parliament with a 2/3 majority and was instrumental in establishing independent institutions such as the Elections Commission, Police Commission and an independent Judiciary.
“It (19A) brought a balance in power between the Executive and the Legislature, and prevented those institutions from being politically influenced,” he added. He expressed concern that there was a growing voice within the Government which was calling for the 19A to be removed pointing out that if implemented it ran the risk of removing strong democratic safeguards and leading to political influence and corruption.
MP Rajitha Senaratne echoed Kiriella’s views and insisted that the 19th Amendment was necessary to protect democratic freedoms including independent commissions, Judiciary and media freedom. “Our Government had weaknesses but everyone knows we brought back democracy and gave freedom back to the people,” Senaratne charged, claiming that the 19th Amendment changed an era where Executive powers reigned supreme. “We urge the Government to follow the democratic path and ask them to allow dissent,” he appealed.