The Maldives sees Sri Lanka as the most stable democracy in South Asia, the Speaker of the People’s Majlis of the Maldive Islands and former President Mohamed Nasheed said today.
He said that Sri Lanka has never transferred power other than through democratic means and through elections.
Nasheed expressed these views after Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe delivered a speech at the People’s Majlis today while on an official visit to the country.
In his speech Wickremesinghe noted that in both countries, executive power is vested in the President. But in Sri Lanka, it is the Cabinet of Ministers, which includes the President, that is in charge of the direction and control of the Government.
The Cabinet of Ministers is also collectively responsible to the Parliament. The President is tasked with appointing as the Prime Minister, the person who is likely to command the most support in Parliament.
“Furthermore, this position was upheld by the Court of Appeal in 2018 when it issued an interim order restraining Mahinda Rajapaksa, the former President, from functioning as Prime Minister, despite being appointed by the President, since 122 of the 225 Members of Parliament were opposed to him,” he said.
The Prime Minister also said that earlier, the President had the discretionary powers to appoint Ministers from among the Members of Parliament – contrary to the Westminster tradition of Parliament.
However, he said the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, corrected this position by requiring the President to appoint Ministers on the advice of the Prime Minister.
“This reinforced the collective responsibility of the Cabinet of Ministers to Parliament. Today, the major features of the Westminster Parliamentary Government exist side by side with an Executive Presidency – which we are committed to abolish due to its profound powers that have often been exploited and abused by its incumbents – with impunity,” he added.
He also said that the 19th Amendment further strengthened Parliament by restricting the President’s powers to dissolve Parliament.
The Prime Minister said that the President cannot dissolve Parliament for four and a half years unless Parliament requests a dissolution by a two-thirds majority.
“In October 2018, the President purported to dissolve Parliament without such a resolution but the Supreme Court held that this dissolution to be unconstitutional,” he said.
Wickremesinghe said that the 19th amendment was deemed necessary because of the flagrant violations of the constitution under the previous regime. (Colombo Gazette)