Government says Constitution-making transparent

KiriellaSri Lanka’s new Constitution-making is not a secret process and open to all ideas, a senior minister said as the Government set up a special office for public to express their views on the Constitutional framework, the Press Trust of India reported.

“This is not a secret process. Anybody can make their views known on the process,” said Lakshman Kiriella, leader of the House and minister of Highways and Higher Education.

Kiriella’s remarks came days after Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe moved a resolution at a special session to set up a Constitutional Assembly to formulate a new Constitution.

The opposition backing former President Mahinda Rajapaksa has protested the move to form a Constitutional Assembly, saying it violated the parliament’s standing orders.

Several Buddhist monks have raised concerns that the new Constitution seeks to dilute the foremost position given to the majority religion Buddhism and the unitary character of the country will be replaced with a federal set up.

“There is not a single clause yet for the new Constitution. We are only talking about the process. These are attempts to mislead based on false statements,” Kiriella said.

“We will not allow any dilution of the position of Buddhism and we will not agree to any devolution beyond the thirteenth amendment,” said Dilan Perera, a minister backing President Maithripala Sirisena.

The Government yesterday opened a special office for public to make their proposals to the constitution.

“We will make every effort to adopt the new Constitution within this year,” said Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe.

President Maithripala Sirisena recently underlined the need for constitutional reforms aimed at achieving reconciliation with the minority Tamil community and preventing another ethnic war.

“We need a Constitution that suits the needs of the 21st century and make sure that all communities live in harmony,” Sirisena, who completed one year in office on Saturday, said in his address to the parliament.

Sri Lankan troops in 2009 defeated the LTTE which was fighting for an independent state for minority ethnic Tamils.

At least 40,000 Tamil civilians may have been killed in the final months of the civil war, according to a UN report.

The Sri Lankan Government has promised that it will investigate alleged war crime allegations against government troops and Tamil Tiger rebels. (Colombo Gazette)

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