Sep 18, 2017

Govt. attempting to delay PC elections again - CaFFE

The government is attempting to postpone the Provincial Council Elections through a proposal during the committee stage on September 20th, Executive Director of the Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon said in a press release.

The gazette of the draft bill allocating 30% of seats in provincial councils for female representatives has been issued. This is to be included in the agenda of the parliament this week and to be debated. However the government has brought forth proposals which were not discussed in earlier discussions with political parties. These include the replacement of the proportional representation with a mix of first past the post and proportional representation system. The President and PM have issued two short statement on this matter and state minister Dilan Perera has questioned the independence of the Elections Commission. These are early moves to postpone these elections by bringing into the table peripheral matters.

The government earlier attempted to postpone election using the 20th amendment to the constitution as a pretext but it seems that the Supreme Court has put a halt to that initiative. Thus it is preparing a draft on amending provincial council election system which is to be presented as a committee stage proposal. The government in 2015 was willing to sacrifice electoral reforms to save itself from the consequences of the Treasury bond scam. Now it’s trying to postpone elections by underhand methods.

Subtle moves

If the government postpones elections through a gazette notification, it allows political parties and civil society organizations to seek redress through the judicial system. However by attempting to postpone elections through an amendment at the committee stage, this government has shown that it operates in much more subtle and sinister ways.

The sovereignty of the people has been conferred to Parliament in the expectation that MPs will do their best to ensure the welfare of the public. The people of this country do not expect it be used as a tool to take away their franchise. By attempting to postpone elections by putting forward proposals which come out of the blue this government is making a mockery of the democratic principals.

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