225-member parliament; next polls under PR Jumbos stick to their guns … demand dissolution of Parlament

fourThe Cabinet on Friday approved the proposed 20th Amendment to the Constitution with the number of parliamentary seats increased to 237 from the current 225, but the UNP now insists that it is strongly opposed to a bigger Parliament.

In a statement issued on Saturday, the UNP said: “Since 2002, the UNP has been of the view that the number of parliamentary seats shouldn’t be increased under any circumstances. There is no change in our stand.”

The statement dealt with the Working Committee meeting held at Sirikotha on Friday evening.

The UNP also reiterated that the next parliamentary election should be conducted under the Proportional Representation system and the 20 Amendment should take effect later on.

The current parliament can continue till April next year.

According to the UNP, the 20th Amendment envisages a mixed system comprising the first-past-the-post system coupled with District Proportional Representation (DPR) and National Proportional Representation (NPR).

In accordance with a decision taken at Friday’s Working Committee meeting, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe will request President Maithripala Sirisena to dissolve parliament immediately to pave the way for fresh parliamentary election under the existing electoral system.

The UNP asserted that early election was necessary to thwart an attempt by a section of the SLFP led Opposition from causing further political turmoil. Referring to the inordinate delay in approving three civil society members to the 10-member Constitutional Council, thereby by undermining the 19 Amendment to the Constitution, the UNP alleged the Opposition was undermining the President and the government.

Prof. G.L. Peiris, on behalf of the Opposition has publicly announced a plan to remove Prime Minister Wickremesinghe through a no-faith motion and a UPFA MP as the next Prime Minister before endorsing the 20 Amendment. The UNP said a section of the SLFP was working contrary to the understanding between the two parties.

Declaring that the UNP had succeeded in securing the January presidential election through manoeuvring in late 2014, the UNP Working Committee asserted the UNP leader Wickremesinghe had become the Prime Minister in accordance with a mandate given by the people under special circumstances. The Working Committee recollected the UNP’s spearheading role in the last presidential election campaign that led to Maithripala Sirisena being elected President.

Pointing out that the proposed no-faith motion against Premier Wickremesinghe had been placed in the Order Book in addition to the no-faith motion against Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake now set to be debated on July 4, the UNP proposed the immediate dissolution of parliament and a fresh election.