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Transparency International Sri Lanka alarmed over the way Provincial Councils Elections Amendment Act passed in parliament

The anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) says it is alarmed by the lack of consultation and procedure adopted in the passage of the Provincial Councils Elections Amendment Act.

In a media release, Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) says that by making Substantial Committee Stage Amendments to the Provincial Council Elections Amendment Act, a key democratic check has been side-stepped as there is no opportunity to assess the constitutional conformity of the amendments.

TISL is of the position that Committee Stage Amendments should only be made insofar as the Standing Orders of Parliament permit them.

It notes that an amendment to introduce a wholly new electoral system, would, at the very least, require a discussion of principles.

“In failing to adhere to this parliamentary procedure, it seems that the Legislation has been perverted to further delay elections due to the need for delimitation,” the release said.

While commending the government for taking steps to bring in progressive reforms such as adoption of a mixed electoral system, TISL also expressed caution as public would be made aware of the new electoral system, only when the Act is published.

Commenting on the issue, TISL Executive Director Asoka Obeyesekere said, “This is the archetypal illustration of closed government in practice – despite the government being a member of the Open Government Partnership.”

Sri Lanka parliament on Wednesday passed the Provincial Council (PC) Elections (Amendment) Bill to increase female representation in Provincial Councils with two-third majority.

Provincial Councils Elections (Amendment) Bill seeks to amend the Provincial Councils Elections Act, No. 2 of 1988 to make it binding on all political parties and independent groups to field at least 25 percent female candidates in Provincial Council elections.

Courtesy: Colombo Page