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Sri Lanka: Government Drafting Constitutional Amendment

(May 17, 2013) It was reported in early May 2013 that the Government of Sri Lanka is now drafting a constitutional amendment to reduce the terms of office of the President and the Chief Justice to five years each, instead of the current six years for the President and unlimited term, to age 65, for the Chief Justice. There would be no limit, however, on how often a President could be re-elected. If adopted, the amendment would be the 19th amendment to the country’s Constitution. (Sri Lankan Government Drafts a New Amendment to the Constitution, COLOMBO PAGE (May 6, 2013); Introduction to the Web Version of the Constitution (as amended through 2000, that is, through the 18th amendment), PRESINFORM (the official website of the Data and Information Unit of the Sri Lankan Presidential Secretariat, last visited May 16, 2013).)

Other possible provisions that could be included in a 19th amendment would limit the powers, given to provincial councils under the 13th constitutional amendment, by which they exercise control over the police and over land issues. (Sri Lankan Government Drafts a New Amendment to the Constitution, supra.)

Opposition political leaders are also drafting proposed constitutional amendments. Ranil Wickremasinghe, the leader of the opposition United National Party, is now serving on a party committee to consider amendment provisions. He has said that the country needs a new approach to government and that his party’s research division is working on recommendations for amendments and would be consulting other political parties in the drafting process. (Sri Lanka’s Main Opposition to Draft a New Constitution for the Country, COLOMBO PAGE (May 6, 2013); Main Opposition Drafts a New Constitution for Sri Lanka, COLOMBO PAGE (May 12, 2013).)