Written by Tharushan Fernando
30 Sep, 2015 | 10:19 pm
The 60th anniversary of the Department of Elections was marked at the BMICH on Wednesday.
The event was held under the auspices of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and saw the participation of Former President’s Mahinda Rajapaksa and Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, the Elections Commissioner, party Leader, party secretaries, politicians and officers.
General Secretary of the Citizens Front and Former MP J. Sri Ranga was also present for the event. A commemorative stamp was also issued on Wednesday to mark 60 years of the Department of Elections. Past and present employees of the department were presented with mementos.
Prime Minister,Ranil Wickremesinghe speaking on the occasion said:
There are three important aspects on the election system. The first is , what is the new election system that we will introduce to cancel the preferential votes system?
He further stated:
There are signs of a proportional voting system and there are signs of a single vote system and there are issues that need to resolved. So are we to continue with this in a parallel manner or are we seeking the final result, similar to what is done in New Zealand.
He went on to stated:
We hope to discuss this issue in the coming months and seek a solution by the end of the year. Some call for the amendment to take place before the Local Government Election and the polls to be carried out under this system while some say that there isn’t sufficient time. Some say that this will not be 100 percent successful but what I say is, if you continue to gaze at it, there will be no success. During the elections even though we spoke of Democracy, the Elections Commission acted in an autocratic manner and provided us with a free and fair election .
Elections Commissioner, Mahinda Deshapriya stated:
We retire when we reach the age of 60 and today, the Department of Elections marks 60 years. So I assume that this department might retire in a few days when the commission is established.
He also stated:
Today the public opinion is that the election system, similar to the one in New Zealand can be brought about through the 20th Amendment to the constitution or a new constitution,
UPFA MP ,Dinesh Gunawardena speaking on the occasion stated:
The elections commissioner conducts the elections and then the candidates seek the votes under the law and they make various promises during the election period, However, the Elections Commissioner is unable to keep track if those promises are fulfilled after the candidate is elected becasue he is involved in the election process. So it is parliament that needs to create the law
Opposition Leader, R. Sampanthan said:
The implementation of the democratic process at different levels is the responsibility of the department of elections. They conduct the polls and they count the votes and they declare the results. So, the Elections Department , the Elections Commissioner and the staff become the trustees on behalf of its people of this sacred process of conducting a free and fair election. Fortunately in this country , though there may have been the occasional blemish the Elections Department has conducted its responsibilities and duties in keeping with what is expected of them.
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