The Constitutional Council (CC), the body empowered under the 19th Amendment to the Constitution to set up the independent commissions, is currently in limbo amid bitter divisions in the government and opposition ranks.
Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe told The Nation that the government was trying its best to persuade sections of the opposition to agree to a proposal which suggests the names of three civil people to the council.
However, Cabinet Spokesman and Minister of Health and Indigenous Medicine, Rajitha Senaratne had earlier stated that the government had decided that the CC would function with the present seven members, all parliamentarians, until a consensus is reached regarding the civil persons.
Rajapakshe stated there was no legal impediment to the functioning of the CC with its seven members. However, the government was trying its best to convince party leaders to agree to the three civil nominees and have them appointed to the CC in the coming days.
The names of the three civil people proposed are, Dr. Radhika Coomaraswarmy, Sarvodaya Leader Dr. A.T. Ariyaratne and Former Appeals Court Judge A.W.A. Salam.
Rajapakshe said it was ‘very unreasonable’ on the part of ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa led elements’ of the opposition to now hold up the smooth functioning of the CC after initially giving the impression that there was agreement on these names. “Justice Salam’s name was agreed upon by all Muslim MPs, Dr. Radhika Coomaraswarmy’s name was proposed by all the female MPs and Dr. A.T. Ariyaratne’s name was proposed by the Opposition Leader,” he revealed.
Dr Coomaraswamy’s nomination has prompted objections on account of allegedly holding down a damning report on human rights violations. Her activities in the International Centre for Ethnic Studies have also been criticized. Dr Ariyaratne’s suitability has also been questioned on the basis of favoring family members in Sarvodaya.