NUF welcomes SLFP electoral reform proposal

* Says can be enacted without delimitation commission!

* Urges minor & minority parties not to scuttle 100 day pledge!

The National United Front (NUF) led by M. M. Zuhair, PC has welcomed the electoral reform proposals of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) as a major step in the right direction to change the existing electoral system and introduce a combination of the first-past -the post (FPP) system and the proportional representation (PR) system as promised in the presidential election manifesto of the present government.

The NUF has said in a media statement: "The people of this country have, on January 8, clearly mandated the government to bring about this vital change in the electoral process, pledged to be implemented in the 100 day programme and before calling for general elections. These changes can be enacted without recourse to a delimitation commission.

"All political parties, which campaigned for the election of then presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena at the January 8Presidential Election, did so, on the promise of implementing the ‘Maithripala Manifesto’. There is no basis for any of these parties, particularly the minor and the minority parties, to now seek ways and means to scuttle the government from carrying out its 100 day programme of implementing pledges made to the people.

"The SLFP proposals, excepting some minor changes are substantially in line with the mandate obtained by the government. The SLFP proposals should be amended from 165 electorates to 160 electorates, electing 168 Members of Parliament including the six multi-member constituencies electing 8 additional MPs, in order to avoid a delimitation commission. The NUF supports the appointment of a Delimitation Commission after the forthcoming general elections to enable electoral imbalances to be addressed from the next general elections onwards without allowing this issue to be used now to prevent the implementation of the 100 day programme, within the next few days!

"The SLFP proposals have recommended 66 Members of Parliament on the PR in addition to 165 Members being elected on the FPP, aggregating to 231 Members, an increase of six from the present 225 member parliament. The NUF recommends 160 electorates without changing electoral boundaries, with 168 Members elected on FPP plus 67 Members on PR totalling 235 Members for the next Parliament. This can be made law together with the 19th Amendment, in order to ensure two-thirds majority with SLFP support.

"The ‘Maithripala Manifesto’ told the country in no uncertain terms as follows; ‘The existing electoral system is a main spring encouraging corruption and violence. Candidates have to spend a colossal sum of money due to the preferential system. I will change this completely. I will guarantee the abolition of the preferential system and ensure that every electorate will have a Member of Parliament of its own. The new electoral system will be a combination of the first-past the post system and the proportional representation…’

"The PR system based on the district as the electorate had contributed not only for the widespread corruption and violence in the country but also to the rise of racism and communalism which are also serious issues confronting the country. We need to get rid of these threats to peace and national harmony. All those supportive of good governance should support the government’s endeavour to effect the promised amendments to the electoral system now."

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