Friday, 25th June 2021

PM: Buddhism’s foremost place will be intact new constitution

Colombo (PTI): Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Friday tabled in Parliament a report of experts on drafting a new Constitution in which the foremost place would be given to Buddhism, rejecting allegations by the Opposition that the majority religion will be diluted. 

Parliament met as the Constitutional Assembly of Wickremesinghe presented the report prepared by the Panel of Experts for the Steering Committee, which is based on the Interim report, six sub-committee reports and representations made by political parties on drafting a new Constitution.

“This report consists of proposals made by all parties including the chief ministers of provinces,” he said, adding that it was up to Parliament to take the process forward.

 

Wickremesinghe debunked theories put forward by former president Mahinda Rajapaksa-led Sinhala majority nationalists that the Constitution-making exercise will give into the demands of Tamil minority separatists.

They have condemned the new Constitution as the one which will grant a federal states to the north, eventually leading to the separation of the island.

Wickremesinghe said: “There is no federal proposal in this. All have accepted the unitary character, although they may have different views on its terminology”.

The Rajapaksa camp has also accused the new Constitution of diluting the Buddhism’s foremost position over other religions.

The prime minister emphasised that the foremost place given to the majority religion Buddhism has been preserved.

Leader of the Opposition Rajapaksa said Parliament has no political moral right to bring in a new Constitution as the ruling party of Wickremesinghe was defeated in local council elections last year.

“We demand that a general election be held so that people will be given the opportunity to decide on the new Constitution. We will come up with our own proposals,” Rajapaksa said.

The Marxist JVP, while blaming Rajapaksa for carrying out misinformation on the new Constitution, said the Constitutional Assembly had not been able to come up with a common draft let alone making a Constitution.

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