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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Civil Society Demands Urgent Dissolution of House

Leading civil society organizations and actors have called for an urgent parliamentary election to overcome the current political deadlock.

* In a joint statement 17 organizations and 52 reputed activists have collectively claimed that, it is more than a month after the 23 April 2015, the date promised for the dissolution of Parliament in the 100-Day Program of the National Democratic Front presidential election manifesto.

* The statement stated: It is becoming increasingly clear that the momentum generated by the historic January 2015 presidential election is being exhausted, and that the minority government appointed for the sole purpose of executing the 100-Day Program is drifting aimlessly.

After the enactment of the Nineteenth Amendment, the reform process itself has become mired in an ambiguous and perplexing morass of competing political self-interests.

The current balance of power in the institutions of the state is incongruous and unsustainable, with a President elected in 2015 to undertake thoroughgoing constitutional reforms, on the one hand, and a Parliament elected in 2010 under entirely different circumstances, on the other.

In this context, the need for a Twentieth Amendment embodying electoral reforms before the dissolution of Parliament, arose as a necessary quid pro quo in exchange for the support of the UPFA parliamentary majority for the Nineteenth Amendment.

Given the lack of a coherent position on the part of the UPFA on electoral reforms, it is now even clearer than before that this demand was entirely tactical.

Moreover, there has been absolutely no transparency or public consultation in the preparation of the Twentieth Amendment and if current proposals serve to undermine the principle of proportional representation, that would constitute regression not progress from the current system.

We value President Sirisena’s courage in coming forward as the common opposition candidate in what was a challenging political environment under the previous regime, and applaud his demonstrable commitment to successfully enacting reforms to the executive presidency, even if they have not gone far enough. What is most important to remember about the democratic mandate of the last presidential election, however, is that the people of Sri Lanka voted for fundamental reforms to strengthen and consolidate democracy as much or more than they voted for the winning candidate.

This mandate requires not only substantive reforms but also a transformation in the way government and governance is conducted. It cannot be squandered because of political indecisiveness or expediency, repeating the mistakes of the past where Sri Lanka’s enormous potential has been retarded time and again due to the absence of leadership and political maturity.

The signatories urged that in the current context, there is a rising perception of crisis and instability, and the economy was unable to afford the current lack of political direction,, and as importantly, the hope and aspiration created by the change of government in January demands both clarity in promises being kept and further progress in reforms, especially with regard to devolution and power-sharing.

The time is ripe therefore for fresh parliamentary elections which would allow the people of Sri Lanka to have their say on reforms already enacted and to mandate the direction of the government for the next five years it added, urging for the immediate dissolution of parliament.


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