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Joint statement: international community urged encourage the Sri Lanka govt to guarantee right to franchise

Issuing a joint statement a group of  civil and political activist have “urged the international community to encourage the government to guarantee that the Sri Lankan citizens exercise their right to franchise without any hindrance. Such steps should be sequenced with initiatives at strengthening the rule of law and fundamental freedoms of Sri Lankans.”

Statement follows:

Uphold the People’s Right to Franchise.

19 February 2023: We, the undersigned, are deeply concerned by reports on the continuing pressure applied on the Election Commission to postpone the local government elections, scheduled for 9th March 2023. It has also become clear that this pressure originates from sections of the government, particularly from its executive branch.

We vehemently condemn attempts by certain powerful sections of the political and bureaucratic elite to undermine the people’s franchise, sovereignty, and representative democracy in the guise of the economic crisis. While noting the socio-economic challenges posed by the economic upheaval, we must rally together to counter initiatives to undermine democratic processes, people’s franchise, and popular sovereignty. We note that mismanagement of the political front by undermining the democratic process can only deepen political instability. It will in turn impact adversely the recovery from the present economic crisis.

We wish to remind the President, the government, and public servants of their constitutional obligation to extend the fullest support and cooperation to the Election Commission to fulfil its constitutional duty of conducting free and fair elections and concluding the local government election as scheduled. We therefore earnestly urge the President and the government, public service officials and others to refrain from any action or inaction that would subvert the democratic process.

Upholding the people’s right to franchise is particularly crucial against the backdrop of an exceptional citizen mobilization where the Sri Lanka’s citizen demonstrated their awareness of their democratic rights and are robustly engaging in holding the political and bureaucratic elites accountable. In such a context it is crucial to take note of the demand for parliamentary elections and holding the long overdue provincial council elections.

We also wish to remind the country’s political leadership that playing with the people’s franchise and democratic rights for partisan gains has in the past caused huge political and social costs. The United Front government in 1975 manipulated the constitution and the judiciary to stay in power for two more years only to suffer an unprecedented electoral disaster in 1977. A few years later, the United National Party government of 1977 manipulated the constitution in 1982 to extend the life of the parliament for another full term through a referendum, instead of holding the constitutionally due parliamentary election. This blatant constitutional and institutional manipulation to legalize an unconstitutional and illegitimate political ambition soon plunged the entire country into a protracted violent conflict, causing unprecedented political instability and suffering to the people. Sri Lankan citizens are still struggling to recover from the social, economic and political aftershocks of that most arbitrary act of political manipulation carried out by a government leadership for narrow, selfish and partisan gains.

In fact, holding the local government elections and allowing the citizen’s protests will even function as a crucial pressure valve, enabling the people of Sri Lanka to peacefully release their anger and outrage caused by the mounting economic hardships.

Thus, considering Sri Lanka’s past experiences and recent developments, we, as citizens of Sri Lanka in whom sovereign powers are reposed, demand the following:

• We demand that the President and the government refrain from acting in a manner that subverts the legally mandated and constitutionally valid local government election scheduled by the Election Commission.
• We remind all members of the public service to fulfil their constitutional obligation of facilitating the local government election as scheduled, without allowing themselves to commit illegal acts under undue and unethical pressure.
• We urge the international community to encourage the government to guarantee that the Sri Lankan citizens exercise their right to franchise without any hindrance. Such steps should be sequenced with initiatives at strengthening the rule of law and fundamental freedoms of Sri Lankans.
• We appeal to the citizens of Sri Lanka to be vigilant of their democratic and sovereign right to franchise. Any efforts to undermine fundamental rights and the rule of law must be robustly and peacefully challenged by the citizens.

Signatories:
1. A.M.Faaiz
2. Aruna Shantha Nonis
3. Austin Fernando
4. Bernard Edirisinghe
5. Bhavani Fonseka
6. Brito Fernando
7. C.Ranitha Gnanarajah, Attorney-At-Law
8. Deekshya Illangasinghe
9. Deepanjalie Abeywardana
10. Divya Mascranghe
11. Dr Maduranga Kalugampitiya
12. Dr Rajan Rajasingham
13. Dr Ramesh Ramaswamy
14. Dr Sudesh Mantilleke
15. Dr Vasanthi Thevanesam
16. Dr. Devanesan Nesaih
17. Dr. Farzana Haniffa
18. Dr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne
19. Dr. Kalana Senaratne
20. Dr. Mario Gomez
21. Dr. Nimal Chandrasena
22. Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu
23. Dr. Rajni Gamage
24. Dr. Ram Manikkalingam
25. Dr. Sonali Deraniyagala
26. Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne
27. Dr. Visakesa Chandrasekaram
28. Evan Ekanayake
29. Fr. Jeewantha Peiris
30. Gamini Viyangoda
31. Herman Kumara
32. Ivan Dassanayake
33. Jayanthi Kuru-Utumpala
34. Jehan Perera
35. Joe William
36. Jude Fernando
37. Kusum Wijetilleke
38. Lionel Bopoge
39. M.A Sumanthiran PC
40. Manjula Gajanayake
41. Minoli de Soysa
42. Mirak Raheem
43. Nandasiri Jasenthuliyana
44. Nethmini Medawala
45. Nuwan Bopage
46. Palitha Pelpola
47. Prabodha Rathnayaka
48. Priyankara Costa
49. Prof Amal Kumarage
50. Prof Priyan Dias
51. Prof. Arjuna Parakrama, University of Peradeniya
52. Prof. Deepika Udagama
53. Prof. Gamini Keerawella
54. Prof. Jayadeva Uyangoda
55. Prof. Neil DeVotta
56. Prof. Nirmal Dewasiri
57. Prof. Sasanka Perera
58. Prof. Tudor Silva
59. Prof. Vasuki Nesaih
60. Radhika Coomaraswamy
61. Rajan Hoole
62. Ramona Miranda
63. Renuka Senanayake
64. Rohana Hettiarchchi
65. Rosanna Flamer-Caldera
66. Roshan Mendis
67. Ruki Fernando
68. Ruvini Perera
69. Sarah Arumugam, Attorney-At-Law
70. Sarala Emmanuel
71. Savithri Thevanesam
72. Shanakiyan Rasamanickam
73. Shanthi Dias
74. Shechem Sumanthiran
75. Shreen Saroor
76. Stanislaus Celestine
77. Thangamuthu Jayasingam
78. Timaandra Wijesuriya
79. V.Thirukumaran
80. V.S.S Thananchayan
81. Vijula Arulananthan

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