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Last updated: 18 June, 2008 - Published 14:51 GMT
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Abolish executive presidency - UNP
Dayasiri Jayasekara, MP (Government photo)
UNP lost presideny due to 'Mahinda-LTTE secret agreement' says the MP
The main opposition in Sri Lanka says the executive presidency should be abolished if the country to resolve many burning issues.

United National Party (UNP) parliamentarian Dayasiri Jayasekara told BBC Sandeshaya that Sri Lanka urgently needs major reforms in presidency and the electoral system.

“The executive presidency and the electoral system should be abolished and independent commissions should be established,” he told

Sweeping powers

The executive presidency was established by the UNP-led government in 1978 replacing the Westminster parliamentary system.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa
Mahinda Rajapaksa is Sri Lanka's fifth executive president

1978 constitution gave sweeping powers to the executive president, who is directly elected by the public.

Three UNP leaders and two Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) leaders, including incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa, held the position during the last three decades.

The Kurunegala district UNP parliamentarian has proposed to the party to abolish the system that offers powers that could undermine the parliament to an individual.

“We need to propose a new programme which would rectify the measures that destroyed Sri Lanka,” Dayasiri Jayasekara, MP, said on executive presidency.

Mahinda- LTTE ‘agreement’

This is the first time that a leading UNP politician has proposed to abolish the system which was established by the party itself.

 We need to propose a new programme which would rectify the measures that destroyed Sri Lanka
Dayasiri Jayasekara

The UNP and opposition leader, Ranil Wickramasinghe, has been suggesting measures that curtail the powers of the presidency but has not suggested abolishing it.

Mr. Wickramsinghe twice lost presidential elections, in 1999 and 2005, to his rivals from the SLFP.

But Mr. Jayasekara says it was due to the ‘secret agreement’ between President Rajapaksa and the LTTE that Mr. Wickramasinghe lost in 2005.

UNP’s Leadership ‘crisis’

The LTTE is accused forcibly preventing Tamil people voting in the elections that were won with a thin margin by Mr. Rajapaksa.

Sajith Premadasa, MP
Mr. Premadasa and SB Dissanayake should be given prominency, says the MP

The opposition legislator does not deny that another is crisis brewing in the UNP regarding the party leadership.

A group of MPs, he says, has suggested other leaders given opportunity to address the concerns at the grass root level.

Leaders such as SB Dissanayake and Sajith Premadasa should be offered more prominence while keeping Mr. Wickaramasinghe as the leader, he added.

Dayasiri Jayasekara did not deny that some UNP leaders are calling Mr. Wickramasinghe to resign from the leadership.

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