TNA opposes reduction of Jaffna seats, Govt. defends EC



By Saman Indrajith


The TNA yesterday vehemently opposed the government’s decision to reduce the number of parliamentary seats in the Jaffna district.


TNA Parliamentary Group Leader R. Samapanthan, making a special statement in Parliament, said that the reduction of representation in the Jaffna electoral district would in reality mean the reduction of effective Tamil representation in Parliament and the denial of equal treatment and political justice to the Tamil people.


The total number of members of Parliament elected to the territory, covered by the present Jaffna electoral district in 1977, under the First Past the Post System, was eleven (11), he said. The total number of members of Parliament elected to the Jaffna electoral district under the proportional representation system at the last general election was nine (9). It would appear that this number is to further decline and become six (6), he said.


"This reduction is attributed to the decline in the total number of voters currently registered within the Jaffna electoral district. It cannot be denied that this decline has not been caused voluntarily. It has been due to various circumstances that were the result of the war that prevailed for around three decades and the violent and abnormal situation that prevailed within the Jaffna electoral district throughout that period. As a consequence of the war, Jaffna Peninsula, the main population base of the Jaffna electoral district, was de-populated almost entirely, around 1995 and 1996, from which it has not yet fully recovered," he said.


"A situation of normalcy is yet to return to the Jaffna electoral district that would enable the displaced people to return to their original places of residence with confidence in regard to their safety and security. The people are also being compulsorily kept out of their places of habitat and residence by the continued existence of high security zones/restricted areas," he said.


Sampanthan called upon the Government to take steps to preserve the status quo ante and to prevent a grave injustice.


Responding to the TNA’s allegations, Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratne said that the Elections Commissioner effects changes to electoral districts and numbers on the basis of duties entrusted to him by the provisions in the Constitutional. There had been many previous examples for such changes introduced to the electoral maps in accordance with the provisions outlined by the clauses of the Constitution.


The prime minister tabled a report containing all the details of changes introduced by elections commissioners during the past and requested the TNA members to refer that report.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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