ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Vol. 41 - No 20

Electoral Reforms: Parties given more time for submissions

TNA, SLMC to wait for implementation

By Shelani Perera

The Parliamentary Select Committee on Electoral Reforms which finalised the interim draft report has given political parties a deadline until the end of this month to submit their observations.

Last week, the Committee met all political parties represented in parliament to discuss the draft report, where the parties agreed on principle.

However several political parties had asked for time to further study the report and submit their submissions on key issues pertaining to the changes in the electoral system.

Chairman of the Select Committee Minister Dinesh Gunawardene told The Sunday Times that all the parties had agreed on a mixed system.

Dinesh Gunawardene

“General consensus was there, but they needed time as there were slight adjustments to be made. The Committee agreed to further the deadline and the parties will have to give in their submissions by the end of the month, as the Committee’s next sitting will be on November 7” explained Minister Gunarwadene.

The two main political parties, the SLFP and the UNP are to hand over their observations by the end of the month, while the CWC, Up Country People’s Front, and the Western People’s Front are scheduled to give in their submissions in two weeks time.

“One of the main issues the UNP had was the Parliamentary composition. The Committee recommended that there should be between 150 to 175 members, but the UNP recommended 125.

The SLFP too had its reservations on this. However, the minority parties feel that there should be more representation. We have to arrive at a ratio to suit more representation on the mixed system, stability of government and more minority representation,” Mr. Gunarwadene added.

However the TNA and the SLMC had taken the stand that the parties were not in a position to give their observations until devolution of power is implemented.

“The JVP too expressed its views, saying that if there is to be any changes to the electoral system, the Executive Presidency should be abolished, as the present system was coupled with the Executive powers. We will also consider their recommendations,” said the Minister.

Dinesh Gunarwadene added that the Select Committee hoped to finalise the report and present it to Parliament in mid November.

“We should be able to complete by mid November. As changes to the electoral reforms is one of the six points to be included in the SLFP-UNP MoU, we feel we can complete by next month,” he said.

In 2001, a Parliamentary Select Committee chaired by Minister Gunawardene proposed several key changes to the Local Government Ordinance. The Committee recommended that a mixed system be introduced as it was best suited for Sri Lanka.

Although the interim report on the reforms was finalized, with political parties representing parliament, except the JVP, giving their consent, the interim report did not materialize. The present Select Committee has however, to a certain extent, used some of the proposed recommendations by the earlier Committee as the base for the new amendments.

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Copyright 2006 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.