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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

No to 20A in Present Form; Minority Parties Adamant

(Leaders and representatives of at least 18 minor political parties meeting at the SLMC Head Quarters “Darussalam” on Sunday night. )

Fear minorities will be left in the lurch, Advocate double ballot paper system.

Leaders and representatives of at least 18 minor political parties meeting at the SLMC Head Quarters “Darussalam” on Sunday night.

At least 18 minor political parties have agreed to stick to their demands for the introduction of a dual ballot paper method and holding the next general election under the prevailing electoral system.

The minor parties have threatened to withdraw their support to the 20th Amendment to the Constitution if their concerns are not addressed.

Also, the minor parties want a discussion to be held with them to iron out differences, before the 20 Amendment is gazetted.

SLMC General Secretary Hassen Ali yesterday said that his party will have no other option but to seek legal action if the 20A is gazetted without addressing their concerns.

These have been the main issues during a minor party meeting held at “Darussalam” the headquarters of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress on Sunday night. According to Ali, the meeting had been attended by representatives of by more than 18 political parties.

According to Ali many minor parties at the meeting have said that they would go before the Supreme Court if the government goes ahead with gazetting the 19A without addressing their concerns.

“The President when presenting the latest proposal on the 20A said that he wanted a Parliament member for every electorate and he also wanted the much maligned proportional representation system abolished.

We too support these moves fully, however by doing so we cannot allow minority representation in parliament to be diluted”Ali added.

Minor political parties as well as government ministers of minority parties Rauf Hakeem, Rishad Bathiudeen and Palani Digambaram have objected to the proposed electoral reforms saying that the minorities would not be adequately represented in Parliament under the approved system.

The introduction of two ballot papers one for the candidate and other for the party, Ali said was a practice adopted by a majority of countries which have a mixed electoral system. However, the Cabinet while approving a new 237- parliament as a new electoral system for the 20thAmendment recently rejected the SLMC’s demand for a dual ballot paper system. Meanwhile, the leader of the Democratic Peoples Front (DPF) Mano Ganeshan explaining matters further on the dual ballot said “ the double vote will enable the voters to use one vote to elect his or her candidate and use the other vote to select his or her preferred party ”.

“The vote to a candidate will immediately be calculated to choose the MP of the polling division while the vote to a party will be calculated on a national basis”. The voters are at peace selecting the right and capable person of their choice for their electorate while expressing their loyalty to their party. This is an exercise which will add more meaning to the electoral process” Ganeshan further said “We have decided to refrain from supporting the 20A in the current format if it is minus the double vote element”.

Ganeshan went on to say that the Assembly of Minor Parties (AMP) which met on Sunday will push for the 20A with the necessary reforms.

He also dismissed claims that minority parties were sabotaging the 20A as absurd and misleading.

He said the minority parties were for electoral reforms and will extend their fullest support to President Maithripala Sirisena to enact them. Sunday’s meeting was attended by over 18 political parties. The JVP represented by MP Vijitha Herath, Tissa Vitarana, the LSSP,.Ananda Mamaduwa, Democratic Party,, the SLMC, DPF, SLMC, ACMC, NUW, UPF and a host of other parties attended.
Rasika Somarathna /CDN


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