Government and Opposition trade blows over 20th Amendment

Government and Opposition trade blows over 20th Amendment

Government and Opposition trade blows over 20th Amendment

Written by Staff Writer

31 May, 2015 | 7:55 pm

Issuing a communique, Opposition Leader Nimal Siripala de Silva challenged the United National Party (UNP) to express its stance on the 20th Amendment, which will include changes to the electoral system.

The opposition leader emphasized that the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and the Opposition gave their fullest support to the passing of the 19th Amendment of the Constitution, based on the Government’s assurance that they would work to pass the 20th Amendment to the Constitution.

In his statement, de Silva questions whether it is ethical to hold an election in a backdrop where the UNP has violated their promise with regard to the 20th Amendment, to both the public and the opposition. He goes on to say that the UNP’s opposition to the 20th Amendment puts President Maithripala Sirisena in a predicament.

Various views were also expressed on the 20th Amendment at a number of political functions. Leader of the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna MP Dinesh Gunawardene notes that even ministers within the current government are not aware about the contents of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution. He charges that the Government has been speaking about the amendment for nearly two months but has failed to bring in any substantive bills.

Deputy Minister of Media Shantha Bandara notes that certain individuals are afraid of the 20th Amendment. as they are afraid that they will not be able to secure power. Shantha Bandara notes that the new electoral system would be fair and called on all political parties in Parliament to support the amendment.

Meanwhile, Minister Ranjith Madduma Bandara notes that those in the SLFP are against the 20th Amendment and that they are hindering the progress of the bill. He notes that the move to bring in a no-confidence motion against the prime minister is an example of one such hindrance.

UPFA Parliamentarian Dullas Alahapperuma points out that the 20th Amendment is more important that the 19th Amendment, adding that the UNP is not in favor of bringing forward the amendment. Allahapperuma called on the president not to dissolve Parliament before passing the 20th Amendment.

A committee consisting of five SLFP members was appointed to prepare a proposal on the reforms to the electoral system, which will be included in the 20th Amendment to the Constitution. Some of the most significant recommendations of this committee include the abolition of the preferential voting system and the proposal to have at least one member of Parliament from each electorate. Another proposal calls for votes within the electorate to be taken into consideration instead of those from the entire district.

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