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President Maithipala Sirisena yesterday said the 19th Amendment to the Constitution has strengthened the country’s democracy and the present government will stay to fulfill the mandate it received by ensuring democracy and holding free, fair, and independent elections.

The President was delivering the keynote speech at the inauguration of the 4th Asian Electoral Stakeholders Forum (AESF-IV) held yesterday at Hotel Galadari Colombo.

“The present government has been able to lay the foundation to hold free and fair elections by changing the corrupt electoral process that prevailed in the country before January 8, 2015 through the 19th Amendment to the Constitution,” President Sirisena said.

“Sri Lanka is a country with a strong democratic foundation and the present government has also strengthened the independence of the judiciary. A recent survey on independence of the judiciary shows that Sri Lanka is ranked amongst the highest among Asian countries,” the President said.

“During the past three years, the government had taken all possible measures to strengthen democracy and human rights in the country,” President Sirisena said.

The President recalled that Parliament was weakened due to the excessive powers vested with the Executive Presidency under the 1978 Constitution.

“The 19th Amendment to the Constitution reduced those excessive powers enjoyed by previous Presidents of the country,” the President said.

“Though the 19th Amendment, we were able to bring back the Independent Commissions to secure the impartiality of public institutions”.

The President said the lack of democracy and transparency of elections in most countries is the reason for holding this type of fora.

(Daily News)

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