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President of Sri Lanka: Map

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The President of Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is the elected head of state and the head of government. The President is a dominant political figure in Sri Lankamarker. The office was created in 1978 but has grown so powerful there have been calls to restrict or even eliminate its power. The current President is Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Sri Lanka's executive presidency

At independence, executive power in Ceylon resided with the monarch of Ceylon, represented by the Governor-General, which was exercised on the advice of the Prime Minister. The 1972 constitution replaced the monarch with a president, but that remained a mostly ceremonial position.

The 1978 constitution moved from a Westminster-based political system into one modeled on Francemarker. As in France, a new, directly elected President with a longer term and independence from Parliament was created. The President is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, head of the Cabinet, appoints the prime minister, and could dissolve parliament (after one year has passed since the convening of parliament after a parliamentary election)

In practice, the Sri Lankan presidency was much more powerful than the President of France. French presidents traditionally deal only with defense and foreign policy, leaving domestic affairs to the Prime Minister. Sri Lankan presidents are involved with every aspect of the government and are able to hold ministries, or can bypass the cabinet posts by delegating decisions to the Presidential Secretariat.

Presidents have little constraints on their power and they cannot be taken to court. However they can be impeached by a two-thirds majority in Parliament. They can place the country in a state of emergency, under which they can override any law passed by Parliament and promulgate any regulation without needing legislative approval. However, to prolong the state of emergency for more than a month parliamentary approval is needed.

At the opening of Parliament, the President delivers an address similar to a Speech from the Throne, outlining government policy.

The President has the power to appoint Attorneys-at-Laws to the position of President's Counsel and military personal to the post of Aide de Camp to the President.

In the 1994 election, Chandrika Kumaratunga of the People's Alliance promised to be the last Executive President, bringing in constitutional reforms to return to Westminster-style government. This did not happen during her time in office. While some political parties have expressed their concerns on the executive presidency the abolishment of it is unlikely within the current Sri Lankan political framework.

List of presidents

Other information

The Old Parliament Building the near the Galle Face Green, now the Presidential Secretariat


The official residence of the president is the President's Housemarker (formally the Queen's House as the residences of the Governor General) in Colombomarker. However the president's office is the Presidential Secretariat which is at the former Parliament building in Colombomarker, where many formal functions takes place. Other presidential residences include:

In recent years from time to time Prime Minister's Housemarker, commonly referred to as Temple Tree's, which has been the official residence of the Prime Minister since 1948, has been used by presidents.

Last election

See also



External links




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