Lankan Opposition Puts Spoke in The Wheel of Constitutional Reform
COLOMBO: The opposition Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), whose support is essential for passing the 19 th. Constitutional Amendment (19A) with the required two-thirds majority, has said again that it will not support 19A unless a second constitutional amendment on electoral reforms is simultaneously introduced.
This was conveyed to the party chairman and Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena at a meeting of party MPs on Friday.
Following this, Sirisena has appointed a committee to suggest electoral reforms. The panel consists of Leader of the Opposition Nimal Siripala de Silva, SLFP General Secretary Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, former constitutional affairs minister G.L.Peiris, Dilan Perera and Mahinda Samarasinghe.
Most parties, except the small and minorities’ parties, are agreed that electoral reforms are needed, and that the new system should be a mix of the Proportional Representation System (PRS) and the First Past the Post System (FPPS) with the majority of seats under the FPPS.
But the ruling United National Party (UNP) thinks that electoral reform is a very complex subject which needs time to consider. It wants the parliament formed after fresh elections to take up the matter. But the SLFP wants the next elections to be held under the new electoral laws with a majority of seats elected under the FPPS.
This is because the FPPS reduces the dependence on minorities and small political groupings. While the UNP depends a lot on minorities like Tamils and Muslims, the SLFP does not.
Sirisena has already declared that the 19 th.Amendment will be presented to parliament for a debate on April 20, but the SLFP MPs have told him that it will be futile to debate it in the absence of an assurance that the 20 th.Amendment on electoral changes will also be presented.
The UNP has said that if the 19 th. Amendment is not passed, parliament will be dissolved. But this threat cannot be carried out unless President Sirisena agrees to sign the proclamation of dissolution. He is the Chairman of the SLFP. If he goes against the wishes of his party, it will desert him and join the rebellion led by ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa.