No room for a division of the country in the new constitution- PM emphasizes

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Friday emphasized that no room will be left for any proposal to divide the country and the foremost place would be given to Buddhism in the new constitution.

Presenting report of experts on drafting a new Constitution today, the Prime Minister stressed that the proposed new Constitution will not have any negative implications on the priority granted to Buddhism and the unitary state of the country.

The Prime Minister today 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 to the Constitutional Assembly

Rejecting allegations by the Opposition, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said the divisions within a country were not a concern and politically destitute people are trying to make such claims as today they have no other topic to talk about.

He added that it is unlikely that there is anyone who wants to change the 9th Article regarding Buddhism was included in the 1972 Constitution by the committee led by Former Prime Minister Dudley Senanayake

The Prime Minister said opinions of all parties will be considered and the report presented today consists of proposals made by all parties including the chief ministers of provinces. He said that it was up to Parliament to take the process forward.

He rejected the claims made by the opposition led by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa that the new constitution will give into the demands of Tamil minority separatists.

He said a unitary state concept has been accepted by many and there are varied opinions and those must be discussed. A federal state concept does not exist and they must decide on power devolution in a unitary state.

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

The Prime Minister said further discussions are necessary pertaining to the matter of the Executive Presidency. The abolishment of the Executive Presidency must not be discussed, as there is nothing that will lead to divisions or that will dilute the status of Buddhism. He stressed that the UNP is clear that the new Constitution should protect these two facts.

The Premier said there is nothing negative in the process. However, the report is now vested with the Constitutional Assembly and the Assembly will decide on what needs to be done.

The Prime Minister stressed that all parties must take the process forward with a debate on the report. However, No date was fixed for the debate.

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