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Sri Lankan government faces backlash over charter change

Critics say proposed 20th amendment to the constitution will open the door to authoritarian rule

UCA News reporter, Colombo

UCA News reporter, Colombo

Updated: September 15, 2020 07:32 AM GMT
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Sri Lankan government faces backlash over charter change

Supporters of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa attend a rally near Colombo on July 28 ahead of the Aug. 5 parliamentary election. (Photo: AFP)

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Father Reid Shelton Fernando, a prominent human rights defender, believes there is a need to strengthen Sri Lanka’s 19th charter amendment by giving more power to civil society and religious leaders.

"The president seems to have only listened to the leaders of some of the majority groups while other heads of religion are neglected and do not have any opportunity to express their concerns," said Father Fernando, former chaplain of the Young Christian Workers Movement of Colombo Archdiocese.

"Several presidential task forces have been ruling and taking decisions through gazette notifications. Today there is no balance between the executive, legislature and judiciary. The government states that the people have voted, but they did not get any glimpse of the changes."

The government proposed the 20th amendment to the constitution on Sept. 2. Political analysts and religious leaders say the gains of the 19th amendment — seen as the most progressive pro-democracy reformist move — will be removed.

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