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Proposed constitution will ensure foremost place to Buddhism, devolution of power in a unitary state: Ranil Wickremesinghe

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Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has categorically stated that the proposed constitution would ensure foremost place to Buddhism and looks at devolution of power in a Unitary State. There is no federalism in it but a unitary State.

Premier Wickremasinghe made these observations in the Constitutional Assembly presenting a report prepared by the Panel of Experts for the Steering Committee. During his address, Wickremasinghe said:

“The purpose of today’s Constitutional Sitting is to table these reports. It was decided on 6 September 2017 to present the Interim Report to the Constitutional Assembly on 21 September. The debate went on for a few days and we were able to collect many important proposals from the members. Even though we are supposed to present Draft Constitutional Proposals, we decided not to in the absence of a two-thirds majority support. Instead we presented these documents, allowing the assembly to resolve the next step as per a decision taken on 24 May 2018. On 6 September 2018, the Committee resolved to submit the draft document to the Constitutional Assembly as a draft from the experts without a party position post discussion with all members,

According to the 1978 Constitution, Article 2 recognizes the Republic of Sri Lanka as a unitary State, and Article 9 in Chapter II states the Republic of Sri Lanka will give to Buddhism the foremost place and accordingly, it will be the duty of the State to protect and foster the Buddha Sasana, while assuring to all religions the rights granted by Articles 10 and 14(1) (e).

Former Prime Minister Dudley Senanayake added Buddhism to the 1972 Constitution. Nobody will want to remove this and will want Article 9 of the current Constitution to remain as it is. We will not touch Article 9. We will consider if there are proposals with regards to other religions.

There are various proposals as to how power could be devolved within a unitary state. We could select the most suitable proposals and develop them in formulating the new constitution Now, this august assembly should decide what we should do next.

There are no plans to divide the country, but those who are politically bankrupt wanted to misinform the public. In the absence of other matters, they look at spreading rumours to say the country is divided, that Buddhism will not have prominence, and the Northern and Eastern Provinces will be amalgamated.

Just because we present you the opinions which are unfavourable it does not say that those will be allowed in the new Constitution. We will get opinions we agree and disagree with, which we will have to consider. A two-thirds majority is necessary to do a draft. The Steering Committee work as been done in a very transparent manner. There could be diverse opinions but we could reach common ground.”

 

 

 

 

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