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Sri Lanka election verdict opportunity for inclusive, results-based governance: NPC

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s election verdict last week is an opportunity for inclusive and results-based governance, the National Peace Council (NPC) said.

Congratulating the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) on securing a two-thirds majority in parliament, the NPC expressed its hope that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the new parliament will act responsibly and set the stage for an era of magnanimous politics.

“It is our hope that the opposition works in cooperation with the government but also be a check and balance and be outspoken when necessary. In particular, we want to see that the rights of all people are respected through good governance measures that are implemented rather than being misinterpreted for partisan purposes,” the organisation said in a statement.

The NPC is an independent body that works towards a negotiated political solution to the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka, with a Governing Council of 20 members drawn from diverse ethnic, religious and socio-economic backgrounds. In its statement released today, the organisation urged the government to take up its promised changes to the 19th amendment to Sri Lanka’s constitution carefully.

“The 19th Amendment shared power away from the president and to the parliament when it was passed in parliament with 215 votes, far more than a 2/3 majority and with only one dissenting vote. In addition, it set up independent commissions to safeguard public servants and institutions from undue political interference, the need for which has been highlighted by the president himself. Thus, these important power-sharing methods may need to be safeguarded rather than discarded,” the NPC said.

Noting that politicians on the campaign trail did not discuss long standing divisions in Sri Lankan society, the organisation said even a strong government cannot win hearts and minds without justice.

“We believe that the power-sharing mechanism of provincial councils in the 13th Amendment to the constitution may be a vent to permit local majorities to manage their affairs and to accommodate particular ethnic and religious needs. It is significant the ruling party and its allies performed better than in the past in several areas in which the ethnic and religious minorities predominate. This gives rise to the possibility that the provincial council system can be revived in partnership with them in delivering economic development and new hope to the people,” it said.

Recalling that Sri Lankans voted out the last government that enjoyed unchallenged supremacy in parliament from 2005 to 2015 when it proved to be unsatisfactory, the NPC said power alone may not provide the best to the people, who have been waiting since Independence in 1948 for a system of governance and development that matches the world.

“Even though Sri Lanka is a middle income country a substantial proportion of the people do not enjoy its benefits as the distribution of income is so skewed that around 40 percent of the population are on Samurdhi welfare. Now the power of the people have been vested through the democratic process in the government. We believe that through inclusive processes in which the hopes and aspirations of all sections of the population are met, Sri Lanka will be on the fast track not only to economic development but also to sustainable peace,” it added. (Colombo/Aug10/2020)





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