A critical dialogue on ‘the new provincial council’s election system” organized by the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) in partnership with People’s Action for Free & Fair Elections (PAFFREL) with the participation of all key stakeholders including Election Commission of Sri Lanka, Ministry of Provincial Councils and Local Government, political parties and Academia as well as Civil Society Leaders held recently in Colombo.
A brief review article was submitted under the title of “ Local Authorities Elections: Some Observations on Post Election Results Period, Lesson Learnt and Way Forward” by Gayani Premathilake, Attorney – At- Law, Legal Officer, Ministry of Provincial Councils & Local Government and Manjula Gajanayake, National Coordinator – CMEV in this event.
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A critical dialogue on the new provincial council’s election system, organized by People’s Action for Free & Fair Elections (PAFFREL) in partnership with Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) was held at the Water’s Edge Hotel on 25th April 2018.
Key stakeholders including the Election Commission of Sri Lanka, Ministry of Provincial Councils and Local Government, political parties and Academia as well as Civil Society Leaders attended at this event. Main objective of this event was to review the outcome of recently concluded Local Government Elections held under the new electoral system as well as to discuss about the newly introduced Provincial Councils Election Amendment Act.
Key speakers at this event were Mahinda Deshapriya, the Chairman, Election Commission of Sri Lanka, K. Thavalingam, the Chairman, National Delimitation Commission, Prof. Sudantha Liyanage, Dean, Faculty of Applied Sciences and Dr. Sujatha Gamage. Panelists for the discussion included Saman Sri Rathnayake, Additional Commissioner of Election Commission and the Secretary of National Delimitation Commission, Gayani Premathilaka, Attorney at law, Legal Advisor to the Ministry of Provincial Councils and Local Government and Luwie Ganeshathasan, Attorney At Law, Researcher, Centre for Policy Alternatives. Rohana Hettiarachchi, Executive Director of PAFFREL was the facilitator of the panel discussion while Manjula Gajanayake, National Coordinator of CMEV also giving his contribution to the discussion.
A large section of individuals representing various government agencies, civil society organizations and other likeminded institutions took part in this event. The main outcome of the said discussion has been the appointment of a committee to consult key stakeholders on the existing provincial council’s election system within a time frame of one and half month. USAID – DAI provided the financial support for this event.
The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence critically engages with the election observation processes in Sri Lanka and has been simultaneously contributing to the electoral reform process in the country. As part of all these functions, CMEV has initiated a series of discussions with the intention of enhancing an island wide public discourse on “Limitations on Campaign Finance and the Disclosure of Assets and Liabilities” in partnership with International Idea.
Therefore, while contributing to the said initiative, CMEV organized a series of discussions in national universities and the initial event was successfully held in University of Peradeniya recently. The notable feature of this workshop was the participation of more than 75 women who are following a diploma course on empowering women on politics in partnership with Ministry of Women & Child affairs. Further Dr. Vijaya Jayathilake, Dean of Faculty of Agriculture, Prof. Kamala Liyanage and several other lecturers and students attended this program. Deputy Commissioner of Local Government (retired) Mr. N. A. Dharmasiri and National Coordinator of CMEV Manjula Gajanayake were the speakers of this discussion.
The objective of this workshop series was to encourage the involvement of university community towards introducing a campaign finance law which is still not exposed. The Delhi Declaration is also a leading source of this discussion as it is a basic document explaining principles on Political Finance Regulation. It is a followed up document with the agreement of Elections Management Bodies (EMBs) and other vigilant groups in South Asia initiated by International IDEA, who together with the Electoral Commission of India, helped to create the New Delhi Declaration; a set of political finance standards and guidelines developed for the South Asian region which was launched in December 2015.
With the introduction of the 25% quota for women in the Local Government Elections, the electoral demography of the country is set to change dramatically. This will be seen especially at local government level because of any of the local councils to be set up after the election should appoint a minimum of 4/1 elected female members.
The special feature of the Act which increased female representation in local elections is No.22 of 2012 Election (Amendment) Act, No. 01 of 2016 and No. 17 of 2016 – these give a greater chance for women who are willing to enter politics. Political parties of the country must work with women’s rights groups as well as individuals to ensure this quota in their nomination papers, an integral part of said act.
There were only 82 women Councillors in previous councils. However with this new quota, there will be more than 2,200 female members elected according to the 25% quota.
Further, the Ministry of Provincial Councils and Local Government will promote this new quota through an event at the open air theatre of the Viharamahadevi Park, Colombo on 14th, November 2017 at 3 pm. The Ministry is organizing this event through Sri Lanka Institute of Local Governance (SLILG) in partnership with other civil society organisations. The event is under the theme of ‘Women for Change’.
CMEV and PAFFREL are giving their fullest support as election-observing organisations which have promote women political participation consistently. Both organisations are joining hands with the ministry under their banner: ‘’Let us grant her the power, for a clean political culture’’.