Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Thursday said a decision on the new electoral system would be taken by political parties within the next 10 days.
Speaking at a meeting with newspaper editors and media institution heads at Temple Trees, the Prime Minister said there was consensus on eliminating the Proportional Representative System and move towards a mix of the First-past-the-post and the Proportional Representative systems.
He said that there were discussions at the moment on the numbers that would be elected by direct vote and the proportional system and a decision on the new electoral system which would come as the 20th Amendment to the Constitution would be taken within the next 10 days. He said that whatever that is agreed on electoral reforms would be put before Parliament thereafter.
When asked as to when a next General election would be held the Prime Minister said: “According to the 100 day program our work is over by April 23. At some stage we have to talk about dissolution,” he said.
Speaking about reconciliation the Prime Minister said that a new office headed by ex-President Chandrika Kumaratunga would be established to look into matters pertaining to reconciliation. He said that it would be established through Parliament and the board would consist of members nominated by the government as well as the Opposition Leader.
He added that there were discussions with South Africa on looking at modalities of establishing a ‘Truth Commission’ in the lines of the ‘Truth and reconciliation Commission in South Africa. However the Prime Minister noted that it would take into consideration the political, cultural and historical background of Sri Lanka. He said that each country has its own legal and political structures and such a commission would be established taking these matters into consideration. He added that all such processes should not get dragged on as it would only hinder reconciliation.
He also said that the Maxwell Paranagama Commission appointed by the previous government is continuing its work and the present government had decided to retain the services of the panel of experts that assist the commission including Sir Desmond de Silva as they had carried out a certain amount of work.
He said that the country was facing a challenge with a UNHRC resolution in Geneva. He said that if a resolution was passed against Sri Lanka it could have led to many problems as the European Union could have imposed immediate sanctions. He said that Russia was facing a problem due to such EU sanctions.
He noted that now the country has the opportunity to move in the path of reconciliation and face such international challenges. He was quick to add that all such resolutions were brought about based on commitments and pledges given by the Rajapaksa regime. He said that certain commitments had been given to the Darusman Committee by former Attorney General Mohan Peiris and Sri Lankan Ambassador to UN Palith Kohona during that time.
He said that the country has to deal with reconciliation and Human Rights within a domestic framework. “It’s not surrendering to anyone in the West,” he said.
He said that such mechanism should be carried out on the principal that Sri Lanka is not a signatory to the ‘Rome Statute.’ He added that the best internal guarantee against terrorism was reconciliation.
Speaking about investigations into corruption he said they would stick to the rule of law when investigating such cases and there were a large number of cases and limited manpower to deal with them. He said the Bribery and corruption Commission alone had some 1100 files with them and the new director General had asked for at least 100 police officers to carry out investigations.
When asked about the Port City project the Prime Minister said that once the committee looking into it finishes the report it would be forwarded to the Chinese company for their consideration and action. When asked about the concern about the project in China he said: “We are doing things like the Chinese Communist Party. They had punished officials who were corrupt,’ he said.
He also said that Sri Lanka’s strategic location in the Indian ocean did not make anyone antagonize Sri Lanka.