Sathosa Ad Final Eng 1
Jan 29, 2017

Public opinion surveys before a referendum? Featured

The president has instructed the prime minister to conduct public opinion surveys before going for a referendum on a new constitution.

He has noted that there was no basis for the allegations by the joint opposition, JVP and the racists about a new constitution although a draft has not yet been formulated.

Parallel to a propaganda campaign to educate the public on the need for a new constitution and its dividends, several opinion surveys have been proposed to be conducted.

A week ago, SLFP general secretary Duminda Dissanayake told around 200 civil society activists that contributed to the January 8 regime change, at a meeting at Waters’ Edge, Battaramulla that the president was prepared to annul the executive powers.

He pointed out that certain powers of the executive could not be annulled due to the requirement of a mandate at a referendum, as said by the judiciary when introducing the 19th amendment.

No basis for protests

Dr. Jayampathy Wickremaratne told the meeting that a new constitution was yet to be prepared, adding that six subcommittee reports have been submitted to the constitution steering committee only.

The constitution steering committee should take decisions with regard to the sensitive issues of the nature of the state, Buddhism, electoral system, devolution of powers, land powers etc.

This committee comprises all parties represented in parliament, and it will inform parliament about its decisions before the formulation of a new constitution begins.

Therefore, the JO protests against a so-called ‘Ranil’s death trap of a constitution’ had no basis.

Civil society activists noted that holding a referendum on a new constitution would not be a reason for defeat.

Gamini Viyangoda of Citizens’ Power noted that it was important to place the new constitution before the public even if the referendum is lost.

SLFP says no to referendum

However, SLFP representatives spoke against holding a referendum that would be lost, saying that that would be bad for the government.

Holding a referendum might be good, but in the face of the campaign by those against a new constitution being strong, it could be defeated, and anti-government elements are highlighting the accusations against the government instead of engaging in a dialogue on a new constitution, they added.

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