Sri Lanka's Parliament debates constitutional amendments to clip powers of the president

Sri Lanka's Parliament is debating constitutional amendments to clip the extensive powers given to the country's president, a promise President Maithripala Sirisena made in the run up to his January election win.

Sirisena made the opening speech Monday urging lawmakers to be part of his effort to introduce democratic reforms.

The bill will remove powers from the president to appoint judges, police and public officials, and give them to independent commissions. The president will also not be able to dissolve Parliament at his or her will.

To pass, the amendments need two-thirds of votes in the 225-member Parliament, but lawmakers loyal to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa may prevent their passage.