Sri Lanka – 18th Amendment to the constitution passed

The much discussed 18th Amendment to the Sri Lankan constitution has been passed. The text of the constitution immediately prior to the 18th Amendment is available here. The draft version of the 18th Amendment is available here. I assume that the approved version is the same as the draft.

After all the speculation, the amendment was finally passed by 161 votes to 17. The opposition UNP abstained, but six members of the party voted in favour. As reported in a previous post, the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress voted in favour as well. So, the government easily passed the necessary two-thirds majority.

The most controversial element of the reform is the abolition of the Constitutional Council, which was only introduced after the 17th Amendment in 2001, and its replacement by a five-person Parliamentary Council, comprising the Speaker, the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and one MP nominated by each of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition.

In terms of the focus of this blog, Sri Lanka remains semi-presidential. However, a key reform, and one that was a major motivation behind the whole reform process, is that presidential term limits have been abolished. In addition, the president must now attend parliament at least once every three months and has the right to send messages to parliament. So, there is a certain presidentialisation of the system as a whole and the parliamentary process in particular.

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