Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is attempting to delay elections through coming up with bogus ‘constitutional amendments’, Keerthi Tennakoon says adding that the gazette on the draft bills on the 20th Constitutional amendment, issued on July 28, is an attempt to delay the holding of Provincial Council elections until October 2019, when the tenure of the Uva Provincial Council ends.
“Wickremesinghe has exposed his desire not to face any election till the end of President Maithripala Sirisena’s tenure in December 2019,”he has said. Tennakoon added that the Prime Minister wishes to accomplish three objectives through these ‘constitutional amendments.
1. Holding all Provincial Councils on one day and giving parliament the power to decide when to dissolve the councils
2. To extend the tenure of some provincial councils to hold the elections in one day.
3. Vesting the powers of the councils with Parliament when they are dissolved.
“It is undemocratic to authorize parliament to run a provincial council when it has been dissolved. To postpone elections one needs to go for a referendum as well as two thirds majority in Parliament. This is clear stated in the verdict on Karunathilaka And Another V. Dayananda Dissanayake, Commissioner of elections in 1999,” Tennakoon said.
Former president JR Jayewardene postponed elections by going for a ‘referendum’. Presidents Chandrka Bandaranaike, Mahinda Rajapaksa and Maithripala Sirisena have all postponed elections. The current prime minister along with several political parties that are hesitant to go for elections is now attempting to postpone elections by gazetting the draft bills on the 20th Constitutional amendment and Provincial Councils Elections Act.
One of the main election promises of the government was electoral amendments. It is disheartening to see the same administration using constitutional amendments’ to delay elections.