It was President Maithripala Sirisena who wanted to summon an emergency Cabinet meeting last Thursday to discuss the abolition of the executive presidency, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said yesterday.
Addressing a ceremony to lay the foundation stone for a trilingual national school in Meerigama, the Prime Minister said he was oblivious to the 20th Amendment based discussions held last week by civil movements and religious organisations, and that they wanted it implemented forthwith.
“President Sirisena telephoned me last Thursday morning and asked whether to summon a Cabinet meeting. I responded saying there was nothing wrong in discussing the proposed 20th Amendment. I also reminded him that the UNP had not discussed the matter yet. I called for a pre-Cabinet meeting and the ministers came out with various ideas on abolishing executive presidency. Subsequently, I informed the President that it would not be possible to get the legislation approved in the Cabinet owing to a difference of opinion. During the meeting, I stressed that it will not be possible to abolish the executive presidency without the support of the SLPP. However, we reached an agreement at the Cabinet meeting that each party should discuss the issue amongst themselves,” he said.
Furthermore, he said several civil society organisations blamed him of not being able to get Cabinet approval for the 20th Amendment.
“I was criticised by a group last Thursday and by another yesterday. People will decide on the matter at the end of the day,” he said.
The premier lauded Speaker Karu Jayasuriya who was present at the ceremony saying the latter had taken the lead in abolishing executive presidency. He said the Speaker upheld democracy during the 52-day constitutional coup and even thereafter. (Yohan Perera)