CaFFE writes to the Speaker, AG and Legal Draftsman
Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) has written to Attorney General Jayantha Jayasuriya, Legal Draftsman Deepani Kumarajeewa and Speaker Hon. Karu Jayasuriya expressing its displeasure at the attempts made by the government to postpone provincial council elections by making hitherto undiscussed proposals during the debate on the gazette of the draft bill allocating 30% of seats in provincial councils for female representatives.
CaFFE Executive Director Keerthi Tennakoon writing to the three officials states that the attempt to bring forth proposals which were not discussed in earlier discussions with political parties, including the replacement of the proportional representation with a mix of first past the post and proportional representation system, was an extremely undemocratic practice.
"This government came into power stating that they will never attempt to pass emergency bills in Parliament. But this is exactly what they are trying to do now," Tennakoon said in his letter to the Speaker. "Given this, I urge you to call for a meeting of members who were in committees that discussed election law amendments to local and provincial council election and get their opinions on the government's recent proposals," he said.
Tennakoon added that to pass a piece of legislation that has not been debated and discussed by the people, political parties and civil society organizations as the laws governing provincial council elections was unconstitutional. "Moreover since this falls under the purview of the provincial councils, debating this law without the approval of the councils is unethical, he said writing to the Speaker.
The CaFFE Executive Director further stated that if the government postpones elections through a gazette notification, it would have allowed political parties and civil society organizations to seek redress through the judicial system. However by attempting to postpone elections through an amendment at the committee stage, this government has shown that it operates in much more subtle and sinister ways.
“The Parliament has been given the power to formulate laws. But this does not mean it has the power to evade the directives of the Supreme Court and to formulate laws that strip away the sovereignty of the people. Moreover you will understand the gravity of passing laws that have not been presented to people via gazetting or have been presented to the Supreme Court to see if they are constitutional. If this is allowed to go ahead, it will be used as a template in the future by political parties that hold a majority in parliament to pass legislations without adhering to checks and balances,” he said.
Tennakoon also urged Attorney General Jayantha Jayasuriya and Legal Draftsman Deepani Kumarajeewa to take steps to prevent efforts to insert hitherto undiscussed provisions into the debate of laws governing provincial council elections.