UPFA Accepts Dinesh Gunawardena Committee Report As Basis For Electoral Reform

SLFP General Secretary Anura Priyadarshana Yapa stated that the UPFA leadership agreed to consider the Dinesh Gunawardena Committee Report as the basis for further discussions on the electoral reforms.

This decision was taken at the UPFA Central Working Committee meeting yesterday.

Speaking to 'Asian Mirror', Yapa added that the UPFA party leaders gave considerable attention to the issue of electoral reforms at the meeting.

The Dinesh Gunewardena Committee was appointed in August 2003 to "Consider reforms to the current system of Parliamentary and Local Authority Elections and other matters connected therewith."

It was also expected to "make recommendations in respect of changes considered necessary to the Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and the existing election laws and to report together with their observations and recommendations on the amendments necessary to the said laws."

The Committee consisted of 19 members representing all political parties in parliament at the time. It suggested a mixed electoral system for Sri Lanka.

President Maithripala Sirisena also suggested a mixed electoral system during the presidential elections campaign. "I guarantee the abolition of the preferential system and will ensure that every electorate will have a Member of Parliament of its own.  The new electoral system will be a combination of the first-past-the post system and the proportional representation of defeated candidates" his policy statement said.

Although there is a general agreement on the need for a mixed electoral system, the UNP and the SLFP are in disagreement over the timing of the reforms. The SLFP argues that both electoral reforms and changes to executive presidency should take place simultaneously.

Meanwhile, JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake recently said that "the mixed electoral system proposed by the Dinesh Gunawardena Committee is a politically distortive system."