21st Amendment: Probably the 21st Amendment to Sri Lanka’s controversial constitution

Sri Lanka’s justice minister has said that the 21st amendment to the constitution will be sent to the cabinet for approval on Monday, a media report on Sunday said, adding that obstructed President Gotabaya has paved the way for Rajapaksa’s continued power. The 21st Amendment is expected to repeal 20A which after the repeal of the 19th Amendment gave President Gotabaya Rajapaksa uninterrupted power which strengthened the parliament over the President.

News First News Portal quoted Justice Minister Vijayadasa Rajapaksa as saying that the amendment would make it impossible for dual citizenship holders to hold seats in Parliament.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who is facing increasing demands for his resignation due to mismanagement of the country’s economy, relinquished his US citizenship in April 2019 before running for president.

In addition to the existing independent commissions, the National Audit Commission and the Procurement Commission will be amended as independent commissions, the report said.

Vijayadasa Rajapaksa said that the 21st Amendment to the Constitution seeks to strengthen the powers of the existing commissions as well as make them independent.

The minister said the new amendment also proposes to bring the appointment of a central bank governor under the purview of the Constituent Assembly.

The powerful Rajapaksa family held on to power after their landslide victory in the August 2020 general election, which allowed them to amend the constitution to restore the power of the president and place close family members in key positions.

In his 2019 presidency, Gotabaya Rajapaksa won a credible mandate for a presidency during which he sought full presidential power over parliament.

Since gaining independence from Britain in 1948, Sri Lanka has plunged into unprecedented economic instability.

A crippling deficit in foreign reserves has led to long lines for fuel, cooking gas and other necessities while power outages and rising food prices have caused misery to the people.

The economic crisis has also triggered a political crisis in Sri Lanka and demands for the resignation of President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. The crisis has already forced the president’s elder brother, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, to resign on May 9.

Inflation has risen to 40 percent, food, fuel and medicine shortages and rolling power blackouts have led to nationwide protests and a sinking currency, with the government lacking the foreign exchange reserves it needs to import.

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