Sri Lanka President says new parliament in September

COLOMBO (EconomyNext) – Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena said a new parliament will be in place by September with the present one being dissolved soon after the setting up of the constitutional council.

The Constitutional Council, which will make appointments to key public institutions like the police and judiciary, is aimed at de-politicizing the public service which in recent years has been abused by ruling party politicians.

Sirisena told heads of media institutions at a meeting Wednesday morning that the government also wanted to go ahead with the 20th amendment to the Constitution which proposes drastic electoral reforms.

It envisages scrapping the preferential voting system with each polling division electing at least one lawmaker, increasing the size of the assembly to reflect the increase in population and having a mixed first-past-the-post and a district-based proportional representation system.

Sirisena said he had started the process by bringing proposals to the Cabinet of ministers and now other party leaders are talking about the electoral changes and can decide whether or not to do ahead.

Many of 225 members of the present parliament actually want the preferential voting system to be changed as they believe it has led to corruption, Sirisena said.

With election prospects often dependent on the size of campaign spending, lawmakers are forced to resort to raising as much funding as they can and once elected, try to recover money spent and also earn more money to fight the next election campaign.

Sirisena said he also feels the forthcoming general election cannot be held under the proposed new system because the electorate has to educated and needs time to go through the learning process. 

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