900 319 0030

Sri Lanka's Constitutional reform

iasparliament Logo
September 23, 2017

Why in news?

Sri Lankan Prime Minister has presented an interim report on the drafting of a new Constitution.

Why a new Constitution?

  • The Tamil community in Sri Lanka has long been concerned of the discrimination by the majority Sinhalese.
  • The TNA (Tamil National Alliance) has been demanding a federal solution to address the political aspirations of the Tamil community.
  • The 13th Amendment in 1987 to the 1978 Constitution was the first time when power sharing arrangements between the Centre and the Provinces were made.
  • This, being without total consensus, successive governments have come up with improved proposals to bring a final resolution to the issue.
  • The recent report is that of an all party steering committee, chaired by the Prime Minister, on formulating the Constitution in Parliament.

What are the highlights?

  • The report envisages an undivided and indivisible country, with the province as the unit for devolution of power.
  • It introduces the concept of ‘subsidiarity’.
  • Under this, function that can be performed by the lowest tier of government should be vested in it.
  • The report also provides for the creation of a second parliamentary chamber representing the provinces.
  • The report commits that the controversial terms ‘unitary’ and ‘federal’ be avoided.
  • Instead, Sinhala and Tamil terms that suggest an undivided country be used to describe the republic.
  • Besides, the electoral system solely based on proportional representation is proposed to be changed.
  • A mixed method under which 60% of parliamentary members to be elected under the first-past-the-post system is to be introduced.
  • Complying to earlier demands, the interim report aims at abolishing the executive presidency.
  • The government has promised that the pre-eminent status given to Buddhism will remain as such; an assurance that may help overcome opposition from the majority.

What is the way forward?

  • While the interim report is a significant step, there is a possibility that the whole process could be derailed by the extremists.
  • Demands from some opposing factions for retaining the state’s unitary character and the feature of executive presidency are getting stronger.
  • On the other hand, the TNA had taken the unprecedented position that they would agree with the contents of the interim report.
  • It is for the government to ensure that the reforms are materialised, to resolve Sri Lanka's long drawn controversial issue.


Source: The Hindu

Login or Register to Post Comments
There are no reviews yet. Be the first one to review.



Free UPSC Interview Guidance Programme