The constitutional steering committee entrusted with the making of a new Constitution for Sri Lanka is expected to present its interim report to the Constitutional Assembly by the end of May. An MP, a key member of the Steering Committee, told the Sunday Observer that going by the current pace of work, they would be in a position to submit their interim report by the end of next month.
He said the report contains provisions for constitutional reforms but a decision whether to hold a referendum on the new draft has been put on hold for the moment due to antithetical views whipped up by a section of the opposition. The Joint Opposition, whose leading this campaign claims that the new constitution is a conspiracy to divide the country. The MP said there was a lot of misinformation on the constitution making process being circulated, especially on the need for a referendum seeking people’s approval for the new supreme Law.
Referring to a recent news report quoting a statement Minister Nimal Siripala had allegedly made at one of the Steering committee meetings, the MP said the Minister was in fact absent that day. “Three of his Bills were being presented in parliament that day, therefore, he excused himself to attend parliament. So he could not have made that statement,” he added.
As neither the SLFP nor the UNP has not expressed opposition to the proposed provisions at the Steering Committee, he said, “There is wide consensus on most of the core issues.”
He said the proposals by the seven Chief Ministers in the South have been made use to fine tune the particular piece of law that addresses devolution to the peripheries. “There is very little variation between the proposals submitted by the North and East Chief Ministers and the Chief Ministers of the South,” the MP said, explaining they have decided to take note of the Chief Ministers experience so as to minimize possible snags at the implementation level. The members of the Steering Committee are currently finalizing the subject of devolution of power between the centre and the peripheries.
He said the President or the Prime Minister has not interfered with their independent task to which all political parties represented in the parliament are making a contribution. “We will agree on the substance of reforms and will take up the matter of a referendum later. That is the consensus at the moment,” he said.