Lanka has adopted the model of executive presidency where the President is
both the head of state and government. Government has the executive powers,
legislative power lies with both the government and parliament while
independent judicial powers are vested in the judiciary. Sri Lanka pluriform
multi-party system and elections are held at regular intervals of six years.
After gaining independence, Sri Lanka adopted Westminister-style
parlimentary government. However President Jayewardene decided to rewrite
the constitution. In 1978 Sri Lanka adopted the new constitution. Now,
presidential system of governance modelled after France was adopted.
President became the chief executive.
The President is head of state, government and commander-in-chief of armed
forces. Directly elected by public for six-year term, the President is
answerable to the Parliament for the exercise of his duties. For removing
the President the no-confidence motion has to be passed by the Parliament
with acknowledgement of the Supreme Court.
The President appoints a prime minister and other ministers who are
responsible to Parliament. The President's deputy is prime minister, who
leads the ruling party in Parliament. If a parliamentary no-confidence vote
is passed the cabinet is dissolved and the president appoints new cabinet.
Legislature or Parliament exercises the Sovereignty of the people of Sri
Lanka. Parliament consists of 225 representatives from whom the President
appoints as Prime Minister the person who in his opinion commands the
confidence of legislature. It is a unicameral legislature. The members are
directly elected for six years by the system of modified proportional
Constitution of Sri Lanka ensures an independent judiciary. The highest
court of the land is the Supreme Court, headed by a chief justice and
between six and ten associate justice members. The President appoints the
Supreme and High Court justices. Judges of the Supreme Court can be removed
from office on grounds of incompetence or misdemeanor by a majority of
Parliament. Justices of High Court can be removed only by a judicial service
commission. The Supreme Court has the power of judicial review. It is also
the final court of appeal for all criminal and civil cases.
Government at province level is divided into two parallel structures: Civil
Service and Provincial Councils., which dates to colonial times, and the
provincial councils, which were established in 1987.
Sri Lanka is divided into 25 administrative units called districts each of
which has a district secretary, also known as Government Agent. Each
district has 5-16 divisions, administered by DS, or divisional secretary. At
grassroot or village level Grama Niladari (Village officers), Samurdhi
Niladari (Development officers) and agriculture extension officers work
under the supervision of Development officers.
Provincial councils in Sri Lanka are directly elected by general public for
five year terms. Leader of the party who gets majority seats in the Council
takes up the office of the Chief Minister with a group of minister. A
provincial governor is appointed by the Central Government as its
Municipal Councils and Urban Councils, elected at the local level, are
responsible for municialities and cities respectively. At rural level
Village Councils are elected. Currently 42 urban councils and 270 village
councils are working in Sri Lanka.
Main Political Organisations
- Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP)
- United National Party (UNP)
- Sri Lankan Muslim Congress (SLMC)
- Tamil National Alliance (TNA)
- Janata Vimukti Peramuna (JVP)
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE, Tamil Tigers)