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SLPP opposes referendum to hold General Election first

Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) yesterday criticised a possible move by President Maithripala Sirisena to hold a referendum seeking public views on parliamentary elections before a presidential poll as an impractical waste of public funds.

Speaking to media at the SLPP head office, Chairman Prof. G.L. Peiris said the decision to hold a referendum was an attempt to postpone the Presidential Election and therefore such an effort could not be supported as it was not the will of the masses.

“Only a proposal passed by two-third majority in Parliament will allow Parliament to be dissolved, therefore any other attempt will not be possible,” he argued.

He argued a parliamentary election could not be held ahead of the Presidential Election according to the Constitution. The 19th Amendment includes clauses that will not allow the Parliament to be dissolved before four and a half years, he argued.

Prof. Peiris argued that even if the public votes for a parliamentary election first, it was still essential that a two-thirds majority vote be held to dissolve Parliament.

He pointed out that a supplementary estimate will have to be passed in Parliament to hold a referendum as public funds have not been allocated for it. “Referendum is a waste of public funds, which leads to a dead-end and it will cost about the same as an election, therefore this is an attempt to divert the attention of the public,” he said. Prof. Peiris argued that no lawmaker will support a supplementary estimate to hold a referendum to seek approval for parliamentary election ahead of the Presidential Election.

“There should be at least one month’s time to hold a referendum after the announcement. The Election Commission has to appoint officials and obtain premises to hold a referendum. Therefore it takes a lot of time to hold a referendum.”

The SLPP last week changed its earlier stance of calling for a parliamentary election and backed holding a Presidential Election.

(FT)

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