NGOs propose election reforms in Sri Lanka
Published December 23rd 2004 in Tamilnet

Three Colombo-based NGOs, The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV), and the People Action for Free and Fair Elections(PAFFREL), proposed a set of Election reforms in Sri Lanka after long discusiions on Wednesday, sources in Colombo said.

Over 600 individuals representing varied sectors in society have drafted and presented a set of proposals of electoral reform in the country. The recommendations have been made in the wake of delays in appointing the members of the elections commission under the 17th amendment, NGO sources said.

The needs for new electoral reforms have been highlighted not only by civil society but also by political parties. The reform proposals include granting women more representation in the political system, requiring candidates to declare their assets before elections begin, ensuring that Sri Lankan citizens living abroad are not disenfranchised and barring defeated candidates from becoming MP's through the national list, the sources further said.

According to CPA sources, the discussions were organized jointly by the CPA, CMEV and PAFFAREL at CPA's auditorium Wednesday. A total of 13 recommendations for electoral reform have been made through a series of discussions and dialogue involving stakeholders from across the country including politicians, religious leaders, women's groups, business associations and representatives of various cultural and ethnic groups,

In addition to the recommendations the stakeholders have also identified four issues for further discussions. These issues comprise obtaining a commitment from the Sri Lanka government to implement a combination of both the proportional representation system and a first-past-the-post electoral system, encouraging women to run as candidates, facilitating the distribution of National identity cards to all nationals and exploring prospects for constitutional change, the sources added.

The NGO organizations calling for reforms have observed general elections, provincial council elections and local government elections, and submitted their reports to Sri Lanka’s government. In the last general elections, representatives of these NGOs joined the Eurapion Union (EU) observers and monitored the elections.