Final decision on 20A today

Updated: 00:00 GMT, Jan 1, 1970 | Published: 05:05 GMT, Jun 12, 2015 |

A special meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers is scheduled for today to discuss and reach a decision on the 20th Amendment to the Constitution aimed at electoral reforms. Cabinet Spokesman, Minister Rajitha Senaratne yesterday said the government was confident of arriving at a suitable formula on electoral reforms which is agreeable to all major political parties at today’s meeting.

He said discussions will be held with political party leaders as well on the issue, in addition to the Cabinet meeting. Dr. Senaratne said the cabinet is highly likely to stick with the present 225 member legislature of which 25 members will be elected on the national list. According to Senaratne, today’s discussion will focus on arriving at a consensus on a satisfactory formula which addresses the interest of all major political parties in nominating members for the remaining 200 seats.  Rajitha said that the government expects to issue the gazette notification on the 20th Amendment to the Constitution today itself, following approval by the Cabinet. It will be tabled in parliament subsequently. Earlier, the Cabinet on June 08, granted its approval to the proposal on electoral reforms presented in the revised version of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution.

The proposal said the 225 member Parliament will include 125 MPs elected under the first-past-the-post system, 75 MPs under the Proportional Representation (PR) system and 25 MPs nominated from the National List. However, following this announcement minor parties were up in arms, charging that their representations in the legislature will be curtailed by limiting electorates. The Cabinet Spokesman in reply to a question raised by a journalist said that although some minor parties opposed later on, they did not make any big noise during the cabinet meeting where the above proposal was approved.

Dr. Senaratne pointed out that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had presented the proposal on June 08, noting that it was aimed at addressing the concerns of minor parties. Replying to another question Dr. Senaratne said that Parliament will not be dissolved until the 20th Amendment is passed. Further on the matter the Minister said that he saw no need to dissolve Parliament in haste. When questioned whether, the two No Confidence Motions against the Prime Minister and Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake will jeopardize the safe passage of 20A, Minister Senaratne said that he believed it would not be so. He went on to say that the two motions have not even been included in the Parliament agenda. When questioned whether the President was trying to scuttle the No-Confidence motion against the Premier, Senaratne said that President Maithripala Sirisena was not interfering in such matters.