House unites to defeat Delimitation Committee Report | Sunday Observer

House unites to defeat Delimitation Committee Report

At the end of the day long debate, the vote taken on the Report of the Delimitation Committee for the delimitation of electorates in Provincial Councils was defeated in Parliament by 139 votes. This was a significant gesture, in that, a motion placed before the House by the Government itself was rejected by a two thirds majority. There were no votes for the Report and all 139 Government and Opposition members voted against the Report citing that there were a series of shortcomings in the Report.

All members of the UNP, SLFP -Maithri Faction, Joint Opposition (JO) and TNA members voted against the Report. Despite the JVP supporting to hold the PC elections under the new system, none of the JVP MPs were present in the Chamber when the vote was taken. A total of 85 MPs were absent including 20 SLFP MPs of the Government. A notable feature was, Provincial Councils and Local Government Minister Faiszer Musthapha who presented the Delimitation Committee Report also voted against it.

As the Delimitation Committee Report was rejected in Parliament, the Speaker needs to take action in accordance with Clause 4(12) of the Constitution. The matter had been discussed at the Parliamentary Affairs Committee meeting chaired by the Speaker on Friday (August 24). The Speaker held the view that under any circumstances, PC elections should not be postponed. He will name a five member Committee headed by the Prime Minister to make their recommendations to fix an early date to hold the PC elections.

The Delimitation Report was presented to the House by Minister Musthapha on March 6, 2018. Before the debate commenced, JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake drew attention to the need for the Report to be debated and approved with a two thirds majority in the House, within a month of its presentation in Parliament. He now queried as to how a vote is called, after the lapse of nearly five months since its presentation. Minister Musthapha, countering this argument said, even if the Report has exceeded the one month timeframe, its legality remained intact.

MP Dissanayake asked whether the UNP would vote in favour of the Report to hold the PC elections as early as possible. He alleged the Government deliberately attempts to defeat the report in Parliament so that it can appoint another Committee and postpone the elections by another two months.

Leader of the House Minister Lakshman Kiriella joining the debate said, the UNP believed the PC Elections should be held under the old electoral system, and they too want to hold the elections as soon as possible. The Minister said, preparing new laws to hold the PC elections under a new system would take more time and that there is no consensus among the political parties on the delimitation process.

Minister Musthapha said, he too had his reservations on the Delimitation Committee Report. However, small parties which piggy-ride the main parties have opposed the new electoral system. He said, today some newspapers have reported that “Faiszer’s report would be defeated in Parliament.” This is not my report. The new system has been envisaged to eliminate the preferential vote system.

Participating in the debate, SLMC Leader and City Planning and Water Supply Minister Rauff Hakeem said his party was ready to break alliance with the Government if it would not consider forming multi-member constituencies for the benefit of minority parties at the forthcoming PC elections. He said the delimitation committee has done a great injustice to the Muslim community and other minority communities.

Parliament on Friday accorded a ceremonial farewell to Serjeant-at-Arms Anil Parakrma Samarasekera, due to retire on August 30, completing 22 years of service. He is succeeded by the current Deputy Serjeant-at-Arms Narendra Fernando. The Premier said Samarasekera served without any political bias. It is a difficult job but he always maintained the decorum of the House which was a very difficult job. 

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