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Sri Lanka: President Campaigns for Amendment on Electoral Reform

(June 12, 2015) On June 8, 2015, President Maithripala Sirisena of Sri Lanka spoke at a rally in support of a proposed amendment of the country’s Constitution that would change the electoral system. It would be the 20th amendment of the document. (Sri Lankan President Campaigns for Passage of Electoral Reforms, COLOMBO PAGE (June 8, 2015); Constitution (1978, with amendments up to No. 18, and separate links to amendments Nos. 18 & 19 on the same page), Parliament of Sri Lanka website (last visited June 8, 2015).)

The President stated that the proposed reforms, contained in the amendment now under consideration by the Parliament, will give ordinary citizens equal access to the opportunity to run for seats in parliament, making the system more open to those who are less privileged or who have limited finances. (Sri Lankan President Campaigns for Passage of Electoral Reforms, supra.) He spoke at the first in a series of planned public rallies organized by his political party, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, designed to increase support for the amendment. Sirisena has said the Parliament will be dissolved only after the amendment is passed by that body; he has stressed the importance of the reform, calling those who obstruct its passage traitors. (Id.)

Although a number of civil society organizations are supporting the proposed amendment, one opposition party, the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, advocates dissolving the Parliament right away, without passage of the reform. (Id.)