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SLFP suggests to hold PC elections expeditiously under former election system



Leader of the House Education Minister Dinesh Gunawardena speaking at the Select Committee of Parliament to Identify Appropriate Reforms of the Election Laws and the Electoral System and to Recommend Necessary Amendments. Secretary to the Select Committee, Deputy Secretary General and Chief of Staff of Parliament Kushani Rohanadheera looks on

The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) has suggested that it would be appropriate to hold the Provincial Council elections expeditiously, under the former election system the least limited to this particular election alone, parliament sources said.

The suggestion was made at the Select Committee of Parliament to Identify Appropriate Reforms of the Election Laws and the Electoral System and to Recommend Necessary Amendments held on Thursday (02), Parliament Communication Department said.

State Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara who testifying on behalf of the party at the committee stated that many problems have risen due to postponing of the provincial council elections for a long time. He stated that his party was of the view that the provincial council elections should be held immediately. Furthermore, local government elections should be held in the first quarter of next year. The number of local government representatives should be limited to a maximum of 5500, he said.

Minister Mahinda Amaraweera stated at the committee that it is not appropriate to extend the term of local government bodies. The Minister also pointed out that the public opinion is that the number of seats in local government bodies should be reduced.

Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva explained that after the announcement of the Local Government Elections, the powers of those institutions should be transferred to a commissioner until the election is held and the new members are sworn in.

The Leader of the House, Minister Dinesh Gunawardena stated that the Attorney General is of the view that the Provincial Council elections cannot be held under the existing law and that the necessary legal provisions should be brought for the purpose of the stated. He also stated that the general opinion of the Committee is that the Provincial Council elections should be held expeditiously.

The SLFP proposed to the committee that the number of members to be elected from the divisions should be 60 percent and the number of members to be elected proportionally should be 40 percent when the electoral system is amended.

Necessary legal provisions should be made to limit election expenses. The President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s presentation of a Cabinet Memorandum on Limiting Election Expenditure is commendable. The party also said that women’s representation at all levels should be 25 percent of the total number of candidates.

Furthermore, the conduct of media during election period should be regulated. The SLFP also emphasized the importance of regulating social media behaviour.

Professor Sudantha Liyanage, Vice Chancellor of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Chairman of the Expert Committee on the analysis of appropriate reforms of the election laws and the electoral system and to recommend necessary amendments stated if the new electoral system is adjusted to the 70:30 ratio, the existing number of seats in local government bodies could be reduced by 1,500.

He also pointed out the need to revise the electoral system so that the winning political party in the local government area gets two bonus seats.

The Secretary to the Select Committee, Deputy Secretary General and Chief of Staff of Parliament Kushani Rohanadheera stated that the next meeting of the Parliamentary Select Committee will be held on Dec 07.

State Ministers Lasantha Alagiyawanna and Duminda Dissanayake also represented the SLFP at the committee meeting. Members of Parliament M. A. Sumanthiran, Madhura Withanage and Sagara Kariyawasam were also present as members of the Committee.

Officials representing the Election Commission and the Attorney General’s Department were also present.

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Another FR petition to push back presidential election



“19A subject to a referendum”

By AJA Abeynayake

Another fundamental rights petition was filed before the Supreme Court on Friday (12) seeking an order to prevent holding of the Presidential Election as the 19th Amendment to the Constitution has not been properly passed in Parliament.

The petitioner, Attorney-at-Law Aruna Laksiri, in his petition argues that the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was not properly passed in Parliament and therefore calls for a referendum to ensure its proper passage. He says that the 19A must be subjected to a referendum and holding a presidential election before that is a violation of the constitution.

The members of the Elections Commission, the Secretary General of Parliament and the Attorney General have been named as respondents.

The petitioner asserts that the 19th amendment strips the president of the power to dissolve parliament a year after it was elected. The Supreme Court at that time said the provision has to be approved by a referendum, before the constitution becomes law. The petitioner says the referendum was never held, thus 19A could not be considered a law.

He avers the Elections Commission is to hold a presidential election this year based on 19A and that it was unconstitutional to hold the election until 19A is subjected to a referendum.

The petitioner asks the Supreme Court to issue a ruling stating that holding a presidential election, five years into the term of the president, was unconstitutional. He also urged the court to instruct the Secretary General of Parliament to subject 19A to a referendum.

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Govt to start flora spatial mapping, eyes carbon credit trading



Ruwan Wijewardene


ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is in the process of starting spatial mapping on all tree species in the island nation before going for carbon credit trading in the global market, Senior Presidential Advisor on Climate Change Ruwan Wijewardene said.

Sri Lanka has been in the process of carbon credit for more than a decade. Carbon credit is a way of compensating for emissions of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases.

If Sri Lanka reduces its Carbon Dioxide emissions through efforts like reforestation and large number of renewable energy projects, they will help the country to earn money through carbon trading from some other higher Carbon Dioxide emitting nations as compensation.

“We are doing spatial data plan. We have just put the plan to cabinet. We are still waiting for approval,” Wijewardene, the Senior Advisor to President Ranil Wickremesinghe on Climate Change, told EconomyNext in an interview on Friday (12).

“That is where we will map out whole of Sri Lanka’s every tree species, and what the carbon output of each tree species.”

“Then we have the knowledge of what our potential is in Sri Lanka. Then it will be much helpful when we go out to tap market for (Carbon) trading. The process will take two years.”

He said the aim is to earn money through conservation and projects protecting the environment.

The island nation is also in the process of drafting regulations to ensure the monetary benefits from a proposed 6,400 “Green Entrepreneurs” projects along Sri Lanka’s coastline, focusing on mangrove restoration and development.

“So, we can get youth in these areas while looking after mangroves they can see how they can generate some income through tourism and carbon credit,” Wijewardene said.

“Right now we are drawing up a framework – some kind of regulations how the carbon trading in the carbon market can trickle down to communities.”

He said Sri Lanka will have to go for certification from international agencies before it goes for carbon trading.

“The regulations we are trying is how the carbon trading money can be used by the communities and used in projects to conserve the environment.”

The government move to speed up carbon credit trading comes as it has planned to become carbon neutral or zero carbon emission by 2040 with a raft of large renewable energy projects.

The island nation has been adversely hit by the impacts of climate change leading to frequent floods and droughts across the country.

President Wickremesinghe at COP-28  in Dubai last year launched his ambitious plans on establishing an International Climate Change University, Tropical Belt Initiative (TBI) and Climate Justice Forum (CJF) in a move to gather all countries vulnerable to climate change under a common theme to bargain strongly with advanced countries to invest in their nations on green initiatives including wind and solar power projects.

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Wijeyadasa slates cops for enabling controversial video



Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe found fault with police on Friday for releasing a video footage of the interrogation of a suspect arrested in connection with the recent shooting in Athurugiriya, in which businessman ‘Club Wasantha’ was killed.

Speaking in Parliament, the Minister said that in the video, the police were seen questioning a suspect in public and allowing media access. “This is a clear violation of the law. Under these circumstances, the services of the police officers involved in such interrogation must be suspended,” the Minister said.

He added that releasing such vital information to the media while investigations are in progress amounts to contempt of court.

“This is an obstruction of justice. Under the current circumstances, I do not believe that the judiciary can deliver justice. The police have already conducted their hearing for the whole country to see, and now they only need to issue the verdict. The judges have nothing more to do in this case,” he said.

Minister Rajapakshe emphasized that the actions of such police officials undermine public trust in the judicial system.

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