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Will the people’s aspirations be fulfilled?

12 March 2015 04:25 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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controversy is mounting among the political circles these days on the dissolution of the Parliament in April as scheduled by the 100-day programme of the New Democratic Front government. A section within and outside the government argue that irrespective of the implementation of constitutional reforms the President must dissolve the Parliament as scheduled while some others contend the other way around- Parliament should be dissolved only after the passage of the relevant Bills pertaining to the Executive Presidency and the electoral system.

Those advocating the dissolution of the Parliament disregarding the constitutional reforms seem to be of the view that the Government might drag on with the constitutional amendments for a long time as it had done so far, in spite of the dates fixed by the Government itself having lapsed months ago. 

The draft 19th Amendment to the Constitution for the scrapping of the Executive Presidency had to be presented in the Parliament on January 21, eleven days after the new government took the reins and a committee had to be appointed to draft the Bill for the electoral reforms on January 28. Nearly two months have lapsed since those scheduled dates, even without rescheduling at least the presentation of the two pieces of legislation in the Parliament, leave alone implementation of them before April. Therefore there seems to be some weight in the demand for the dissolution of the Parliament regardless of the reforms being implemented.

However, the basic demand of the constituency before the last Presidential election was not a new government, but a new system of governance. People had been dejected with the Executive Presidency that had almost banished the rule of law from this part of the earth, especially during the last regime. They were also disconsolate with the highly corrupt Proportional Representation (PR) system of elections. Also people were craving for an end to corruption in public institutions and for a decent media culture in the country. 

Nearly six years after the end of the war people are still divided on ethnic lines and there is no sign of reconciliation, which was another issue people were highly concerned about. They saw that the stumbling block for all these dreams of theirs was the corrupt regime of the day and at the first opportunity they were offered they ousted it. 

This was not revenge, but the path they had chosen to fulfil their aspirations. They did not present any time frame or methodology for the implementation of reforms they were expecting. As the President of the National Movement for a Just Society Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera who was a forerunner of the campaign for “Yahapalanaya”- good governance- had said recently it was the new rulers and not the people who voted them into power, who set deadlines for the presentation and implementation of various reforms. What people demanded was the implementation of “yahapalanaya” by way of abolition of the Executive Presidency, introduction of a new electoral system, bringing in the long drawn law ensuring right to information and re-institution of independent commissions that were enforced through the 17thAmendment to the Constitution etc. They were not fighting for a new party based or national government, but a system in which justice could prevail.

These were not only people’s aspirations, but also the promises of President Maithripal Sirisena. This is a unique period of time when these promises could be easily kept as the President wields power over both the main parties of the country. The UNP cannot ignore his wishes lest he might use the majority power of the SLFP in the Parliament to form a pure SLFP government, leaving the UNP high and dry. 

On the other hand the SLFP is also in the same jam since the President could dissolve the Parliament as he had threatened several times, depriving many Parliamentarians of the party of their pension right, in the event they did not support the reforms that were advocated by the President. That would also lead to many current SLFP Parliamentarians being dropped from the candidates’ lists for the forthcoming General Election. Ven. Sobitha Thera was right therefore, when he said recently “thetiya rathwela, rotiya puchchganna onea” meaning time is ripe for the passage of reforms that the people are craving for. 
An election before that might go against the aspiration of the people.   
 
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