Prime Minister’s ‘constitutional amendment‘ is a ploy to delay elections Must go for a referendum as well as a 2/3 majority in Parliament to postpone an election
Posted on August 6th, 2017

Press statement  Rajith Keerthi Tennakoo Executive Director/CaFFE

Prime Minister’s ‘constitutional amendment‘  is a ploy to delay elections

Must go for a referendum as well as a 2/3 majority in Parliament to postpone an election

Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) is shocked at the revelation that the 20th amendment to the Constitution, which the Government wants to introduce, seeks give Parliament the powers of a Provincial Council when they dissolved.

Addressing the media today at CaFFE Head Office at Rajagiriya, CaFFE Exective Director Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon said that with this move the government plans to postpone the provincial council elections by two years.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is attempting to delay elections through coming up with bogus ‘constitutional amendments’, Keerthi Tennakoon said 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 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.

The UNP is now in a deep crisis die to the Bond Scam. It is possible that Malik Samarawickrema. Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade and Kabir Hashim. Minister of Public Enterprises Development, two UNP stalwarts, might be called before the commission. CaFFE reiterates that the desire of the government to protect crooks must not lead to the delaying of elections.

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.

(Keerthi Tennakoon, with Rasanga Harischandra, Chief of National Polls Observation Center at the Press Briefing)

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