Sri Lanka's parliament voted in favor of taking up a bill to clip the powers of the president in an effort to calm public anger that climaxed with the ousting of former leader Gotabaya Rajapaksa who led the South Asian island nation to its worst economic crisis since independence.
After a two-day debate, lawmakers Friday voted with a two-third majority, with 179 of the 225-member parliament agreeing to take up the so-called 22nd amendment for detailed consideration. That's a step toward political reforms aimed at curbing sweeping powers of the presidency to make it more accountable to the legislature.
Members of parliament will now discuss the sections of the proposed legislation late into the evening before a concluding vote. The final version will need a similar super-majority before it passes into law.
Some lawmakers allied to the Rajapaksa family have been clamoring to scale down the legislation by wresting back power to the president, delaying the date on which the executive could dissolve parliament and allowing dual citizens to hold positions in government. They've even called for scrapping the amendments altogether in favor of drafting a new constitution.
Both moves would help ease a political comeback for the family that dominated the nation's politics for two decades. Rajapaksa allies hope the tactics may also delay national elections - another key demand of the opposition and protesters -- buying the former president and his family more time to regroup.
The political maneuvering comes as President Ranil Wickremesinghe, who depends on the support of lawmakers in Rajapaksas' still-in-power Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna party, is pushing for final approval of a $2.9 billion International Monetary Fund program to help the island out of its economic malaise.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa broadened the executive powers of the president shortly after coming to power in 2019.