Colombo, January 3 (The New Indian Express): Sri Lanka’s minorities have got a good deal from the Electoral Delimitation Committee, panel member Dr. P.Balasundarampillai told Express on Tuesday.
“The minorities have a good deal whether the constituency concerned is to elect a representative on the Proportional Representation System or the First Past the Post System,” Balasundarampillai, a former Vice Chancellor, said.
“The interest of the parties of the majority community has also been safeguarded,” he noted, and added that the proceedings of the multi-party committee showed complete agreement on the principles adopted.
Any issues that still remain will be sorted out when Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe meets all the political parties in parliament on January 9, the Jaffna don said.
However, the process was disrupted when two of the five committee members representing the ruling United National Party (UNP) and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (Sirisena faction), did not sign the report.
Nevertheless, the chairman of the committee, Asoka Peiris, decided to submit the report because the majority of the members had signed it. He also wanted to meet the criticism that the committee was taking too much time over the report.
But when it was submitted to Local Government Minister Faizer Mustapha he refused to accept it saying that two members had not signed it.
According to Prof.Balsundarampillai, the Minister said that the two members must say in writing, why they did not sign, or submit a dissenting note.
“I expect them to sign or do as the Minister said, in the next few days. However, I I believe the matter will be sorted out when the Prime Minister meets the political parliament in parliament on January 9,” he said.
Trick to Delay Elections
The Rajapaksa faction of the SLFP, which goes by the name “Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna” (SLPP), views the development as nothing but another trick to delay elections to the local bodies which have been due for the past year and a half.
SLPP chief, Prof.G.L.Peiris told Express that the UNP-SLFP (Sirisena) coalition government has been trying “every trick in the book and outside the book” to thwart the local bodies elections.
“These elections have been delayed by an year and a half only because the UNP-SLFP (Sirisena) coalition is scared of losing them,” he said.
“Indefinite postponement of elections is a gross violation of a citizen’s fundamental right because suffrage or franchise, is a basic right in a democracy,” Peiris said.
He accused the leaders of the UNP and SLFP (Sirisena) of asking their representatives in the Delimitation Committee not to sign the report. He also recalled committee chairman Asoka Peiris telling a local newspaper that the government had been asking him to go slow on the report.
When it was to be submitted at the end of December, nobody from the government was available to take it, and when it was submitted this month, the Minister refused to take it, Peiris said.