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Government fails to pass 18th Amendment in Parliament

  • Minister says UNP went back on its word

  • SLMC extends support

The government was unable to pass the 18th Amendment to the Constitution yesterday as UNP declined to support the Bill on grounds that the government had failed to reactivate the Constitutional Council (CC) before the deadline set by them. The party leaders who met in Parliament last Monday, had decided to take the 18th Amendment for vote yesterday.

However, the UNP changed its stance on Tuesday, and agreed to support the Bill only if the government reactivated the presently defunct CC before yesterday.

The 18th Amendment to the Constitution seeks to decentralize the Court of Appeal, which is currently limited to Colombo, to five circuits throughout the country.

According to the provisions in the Bill, the number of Appeal Court Judges must be increased from the present 12 to 21, to expedite cases to be heard by the Court.

Leader of the House and Senior Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva raised concern as to why the UNP resorted to such a stand despite their initial agreement to support the government.

Mr. de Silva said that this legislation was one form of power decentralization to expedite the hearing of cases in the Court of Appeal at provincial level. The Court of Appeal currently has a backlog of 14,000 cases, he informed.

Referring to the non-reactivation of the CC, the Minister said that the UNP rejected his proposal to appoint a Parliamentary Select Committee to amend the 17th Amendment to the Constitution resolving the shortcomings in it.

He said that he would bring the same proposal again shortly and requested the UNP to support it, as they wanted to resolve the crisis in appointing members to the CC set up under the 17th Amendment.

Commenting on the government’s stand on the final solution to the ethnic problem, he said that the SLFP stand would be presented to the All Party Conference shortly by President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Meanwhile, the SLMC extended their support to the 18th Amendment to the Constitution yesterday.

Party Leader Rauf Hakeem said that there was an impression about the SLMC blocking the move, and therefore they wanted to clarify their stand to the House.

He said that they support the Bill because it seeks to take the Court of Appeal to the provincial level.

The government needs a two thirds majority, which is a minimum of 150 votes to get the Bill passed.

-Daily Mirror By Gihan de Chickera and Kelum Bandara

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July 7, 2006 - Posted by | Media Journalism, News, News and politics, South Asia, World News

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