Elections monitoring bodies whilst considering going to the Supreme Court over the alleged attempt to postpone the Provincial Councils elections via the proposed 20th Amendment to the Constitution, also admonished the Leader of the Opposition, Leader of the Tamil National Alliance R. Sampanthan for not intervening and raising a united Opposition voice regarding the elections.
Whilst the polls monitors were wholeheartedly in favour of a 20th Amendment which they considered was essential to conducting relevant elections on one single day instead of holding wasteful staggered elections, to prevent the misuse of monies and the centralization of State power and resources, the latter which would adversely impact democracy and the fair use of the democratic right of the franchise.
It would prevent elections being held or not held at the whim and fancy of politicians, to increase the ratio of those elected under the proportional representation system (from 30% to 40%) and lowering the ratio of those elected under the first-past-the-post system (from 70% to 60%) and to guarantee increased female political representation (25%).
Speaking of the requirement for the Opposition to present a united view in this regard, Executive Director of PAFFREL, Rohana Hettiarachchi criticized Sampanthan for using his position as the Opposition Leader for focusing solely on issues of the North and of the Tamils as opposed to his mandate of addressing concerns on all aspects and issues including elections which affected all parts of the country and everyone.
The Cabinet has approved amending the Provincial Councils Elections Act, No. 2 of 1988 to provide for the holding of all Provincial Councils elections on the same day. Meanwhile the term of office of the nine Provinces is scheduled to expire in four stages – 2017 September and October: the Sabaragamuwa, the Eastern and the North-Central Provinces, 2018 October: the Central, the North Western and the Northern Provinces, 2019 April: the Southern and the Western Provinces, and 2019 October: the Uva Province.
He suggested that the Government had three options with regard to holding the Provincial Council elections, the terms of several of which are scheduled to expire within months, namely, the dissolving of all Provincial Councils (the terms of some which are to end in 2019 October), or specifying a timeframe for elections in the interim period (involves those Councils where the terms of which have lapsed) or hold the elections under the old electoral system without under the new system proposed in the 20th Amendment and have the said Amendment applicable to future such elections.
Even in the case of the problematic Local Government authorities’ elections in Pudukuduirippu and Muhudubadapattu/Maritime Pattu, the said elections can be held under the old system while the rest of the Local Government bodies can have the election under the new system envisaged under the 20th Amendment, he explained.
“If the Government as can be seen is further attempting to postpone the Provincial Councils elections too, we will seek legal redress from the Supreme Court (precedent is found in Waruna Karunathilaka and Another v. Dayananda Dissanayake, Commissioner of Elections and Others) to protect and safeguard the democratic right of the universal franchise guaranteed in Article 3 of the Constitution. We want to know what all leaders of political parties represented in the Parliament, representing the Government and the Opposition, think of the postponement,” Hettiarachchi pointed out.