Colombo, Constitutional Reform, Peace and Conflict, Politics and Governance, Post-War

Mahinda Rajapaksa’s second term: Opportunities and challenges for constitutional reform

I interviewed recently Rohan Edrisinha, who lectures at the Law Faculty, University of Colombo. Along with a number of other issues related to prospects of meaningful constitutional reform in Sri Lanka during Mahinda Rajapaksa’s second term in office, Rohan addressed the farrago of approaches by the Rajapakse administration towards the implementation of the 17th and 13th Amendments in particular and the fate of the APRC, now largely forgotten in the mêlée of presidential and parliamentary elections.

We also spoke in general about the nature of constitution making in Sri Lanka, as an exercise that does not involve the input of citizens and is often seen as used as an instrument of partisan politics.

  • Dhiraj

    Constitutional reform is not going to happen until Mahinda gets a 2/3 majority at the general elections. The UNP hates Mahinda with a passion at the moment and the opposition will do everything in its power to thwart constitutional change – even if it is about devolution.

  • Ranjith/mohothak sithuwemi

    I wonder whether our present day politicians have the maturity & the discipline to draft a constitution that is fair to all citizens

  • sumaiya rizvi

    excellent interview and a MUST WATCH!!

  • Belle

    Yes, this is a fabulous interview. More interviews with him, please. Maybe an article on constitutional reform, as that would elaborate on some of the points he makes here?

  • Nagalingam Ethirveerasingam

    Excellent and relevant questions to Rohan and as usual he dissects the problem and possible solutions like a surgeon. I always enjoyed listening to him. Sad to to hear him say that a Federal solution has faded away. With that any hope of resolution of the conflict fades away. The latest ABC news video is an early warning for storms ahead.

  • georgethebushpig

    That was a breath of fresh air. Finally a sane analysis devoid of partisan politics. The point Rohan makes about the weakness of the 13th Amendment as stemming from a fundamentally flawed Presidential system goes to the heart of the matter. The 13th Amendment was nothing but a consolidation of Presidential powers under the guise of “devolving” power to the provinces.

    I also appreciate Sanjana’s point about the need for citizen participation in the construction of a country’s Constitution. This has got to be the fundamental basis for establishing a Constitution. The expectation that some “wise” people can sit in a room and crack up a Constitution that meets the needs of the people is mind boggling!

    When are we going to put in motion a citizen’s initiative that begins to flesh out the details of a pluralistic and progressive Constitution that safeguards all citizens’ rights no matter what ethnicity, religion, gender or sexual orientation they belong to? This post-colonial project that we should have engaged in long years ago has yet to start, and the later we postpone it, the deeper the hole we are digging for ourselves. Tinkering at the margins of the current Constitution can never put right that which is fundamentally flawed.


  • niranjan

    Rohan is correct when he says the federal solution has faded away. No one talks of federalism now except in limited academic circles. Though federalism is an interesting concept and may solve some of our problems it has few adherents in the Sinhala majority. .

  • Wilfred Gunasekera

    Forget constitutional reforms,forget the Sri Lanka of the past,now get ready to get accustomed to the life style of the Myanmarians.We have played into the hands of the world’s best deceiver. Only thou that speaks for almighty [President] and fights for his rights will be cared for hereafter.There will be only once race in Sri Lanka from now on and those are the ones that sing the praise of the Maha Raja of Madamulana.The Maha Raja has been gifted with an all powerful constitution that may even convert a male to a female in the near future.So, sing hosannas! to the almighty of the land where kurrakkan grows wild and the parrots make merry.