Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Of those Rip Van Winkles - The Island Editorial

Suddenly, the executive presidency has become the biggest problem in the country! We have had that institution for about one half of the post Independence period or 31 years. There have been five executive presidents –– JRJ (two-time), Premadasa, Wijetunga, Kumaratunga (two-time) and Rajapaksa. The UNP held that office for 16 years and the SLFP for 15 years so far.

JRJ did not create the executive presidency out of any love for the country or the benefit of future generations. His only goal was self-aggrandisement.

The over-concentration of power in one institution is not salutary but the executive presidency has, in spite of all its flaws, functioned as a stabilising political force at critical times. The PA government formed in 1994 with a razor thin majority would have collapsed within months of its formation but for the executive presidency. (However, it finally collapsed during its second term in 2001 in spite of President Kumaratunga's efforts to shore it up.)

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