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FeaturesNewsPolls Chief acted hastily: Ex-CJ -Reduction of seats in Jaffna District

Polls Chief acted hastily: Ex-CJ -Reduction of seats in Jaffna District

EC Deshapriya

Susitha R.Fernando
Amid opposition political parties objecting and expressing concern over the Election Commissioner’s recent move to reduce the number of seats in the Jaffna district, legal experts claimed it was against the Constitution.
They said the move could have severe repercussions on the peace after 30 years of bloodshed.

Besides concerns by various parties, the main Tamil political party TNA is contemplating legal

action. TNA Parliamentarian and senior attorney M. A. Sumanthiran said the party was contemplating legal action against Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya’s decision to reduce the number of Jaffna seats from 9 to 6 while former Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva claimed the reduction of the Jaffna people’s representation was a move to disenfranchise people who were heavily displaced.

Former CJ Sarath N. Silva said under article 98 (9) of the Constitution such a move could have been taken when an election was pending, but in this instance there could be no election for the next five years.

Mr. Silva stressed that the Election authorities had made a serious mistake by taking a hasty decision that could have long lasting repercussions.

“The decision would add fuel to the ethnic problem,” the former CJ said claiming that this would be communicated to the Western world and India as another act of discrimination against the Tamils.

The former CJ also said the Elections Commissioner should have taken into account that there was large scale displacement while another large number of voters were living abroad, Colombo and other parts of the country. From  11 in 1981, the seats in the Jaffna District had been gradually reduced and announcing the decision the Elections Commissioner had said that the seats had to be reduced in view of the decrease in the voter base by 320,000 since 2009.

However opposition parties and civil organizations have expressed concern over this move and had requested the Elections Commissioner to reconsider the decision.

Political parties including the main opposition UNP, JVP, TNA and TULF claimed that the decision to reduce the number of parliamentary seats was unfair and an untimely move.

In addition to the political parties independent election monitors CAFFE and the People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) had expressed serious concern over the Elections Commissioner’s decision.

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