Sri Lanka cabinet moves to clip President’s powers

The Sri Lankan cabinet has approved constitutional reforms that will limit the powers of the president in a move aimed at appeasing the protesters calling for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to quit over the country’s worst economic crisis in decades.

The decision to amend the constitution to clip the president’s wide-ranging powers was taken in a cabinet meeting on Monday, Dinouk Colombage, media adviser for Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, told Al Jazeera on Tuesday.

A draft of the so-called 21st amendment to the Sri Lankan constitution gives some powers back to the parliament and restores independence to commissions in key decision making.

In October 2020, less than a year after becoming the president, Gotabaya, with the help of his elder brother, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, had moved the 20th amendment in parliament, which gave the presidency sweeping powers.

The changes then allowed the president to hold ministries as well as appoint and fire ministers. It also made the president the appointing authority of the elections, public service, police, human rights, and bribery or corruption investigation commissions.



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