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Abolition Of Executive Presidency Must Come First – Vijitha Herath

The opposition, which includes several constituent parties of the United People Freedom Alliance (UPFA) and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), has been rallying against the proposed UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) mechanism to investigate alleged war crimes in the country. Even though the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) has expressed views against the proposed involvement of Commonwealth judges and foreign experts in the proposed local judicial mechanism, the JVP views this opposition against the proposed UNHRC mechanism as a rally organised merely as a political strategy ahead of the local government elections. Speaking to The Sunday Leader JVP MP Vijitha Herath said the JVP is an independent opposition party and will not join rallies of any other opposition parties that are organised with various political agendas.

Following are excerpts of the interview:

 

by Waruni Karunarathne

Q:  The country is now looking at formulating a new Constitution. According to the JVP, what are the areas of reforms that should be looked at?

A: The complete abolition of the executive presidency must come first. It was in fact a promise given by the current President when he came to power. There should be new clauses related to fundamental rights and the electoral reforms must happen. After passing the Right to Information Act and Audit Services Act in parliament, some clauses related to those acts should also be included in the constitution.

 

Q:  How important is it to get the participation of citizens in the process?

A: They must participate in the process. Intellectuals and citizens of this country should participate in formulating the new constitution. There should be a mechanism to get their participation.

 

Q:   Discussions on electoral reforms came to an end after the last parliamentary election as parties could not reach a consensus to pass the proposed 20th Amendment before dissolving the last parliament. Where do the discussions stand at present?

A: Now we have to look at a new system. We do not like to look at the 20A which was prepared by some small groups. We do not agree with that. We have to definitely change the electoral system and we have to start a new discussion about the reforms needed in the electoral system. Whether it is a new amendment or a new constitution, it is important to have a new electoral system. Our stand is that there should be a mixed system of first-past-the-post and proportional representation. But the problem is the formula. How many members of parliament from the PR system and from the electorates? What is the minimum percentage? How to maintain the winning participation? There needs to be a fresh discussion regarding various other aspects of the new system if we are to look at electoral reforms.  We have not had any discussions regarding the electoral reforms after the last presidential election and we expect to have a new discussion with the parties especially ahead of the local government elections. There is now a debate about it.

 

Q:   What are the concerns over the introduction of a new electoral system for the next local government elections?

A: Some SLFP members think that we should go ahead with the new system but the UNP and even Prime minster prefer the old system. Our stand is that there are some matters that need to be resolved. The previous government prepared the new system in a biased manner. It was in fact prepared by former minister Basil Rajapaksa. We cannot agree with the new local government system. Plus according to the new system all independent candidates must pay Rs. 25,000/- each for their candidacy – and even the party candidates should pay Rs. 5000/- for their candidacy. It is not reasonable. We raised this issue in parliament. At that time, former Minister of Local government and Provincial Councils A.L.M. Athaullah said that he would change the clauses and address the concerns raised but those concerns have not been addressed yet. If the government is considering holding the local government elections under the new system, they should first change the system and address those flaws. If not it is not acceptable. If the government wants they can easily do it before the next local government election but the issue is that the government has not started making any amendments to it. They are only talking about it. The prime minister is saying one thing and there are other ministers who are expressing views contradicting his views. I think they have some internal matters.

 

Q:  Some claim that the Right to Information Act which is to be tabled has fallen short of various aspects. What is the JVP’s opinion?

A: We have not yet seen the final draft of the Right to Information Act. The government promised to pass the Right to Information Act within the 100 Days which they failed to do. Still there seems to be a delay in tabling it. They should submit it to parliament immediately. They are taking more time than necessary.

 

Q: How long will it take for all the independent commissions to be established?

A: We have already appointed four commissions. There are so many applications. There is a marking scheme. We need to spare some time for that process. We need to study all the individual biodata. There is another matter. Although there is a commission called Audit Services Commission, the Audit Services Act has not yet been passed in Parliament. Without passing that act, we cannot establish that commission. We can establish other commissions very soon. The constitutional council will be meeting on the fourth of next month. By then we will be able to establish all the other commissions.

 

Q:  The united opposition has been rallying against the UNHRC proposed mechanism to investigate alleged war crimes. Will the JVP back the opposition who are against the UNHRC resolution?

A: No. We are an independent opposition party. We do not want to join those opposition parties who are rallying against the UN resolution. Actually, it is a political strategy. Those parties are planning to contest the local government elections. They have to use certain strategies.  They are using the UN resolution as their strategy to win certain people. It is a political agenda. The JVP s stand as far as the Geneva proposal is concerned is that if they are to implement the resolution, it should be done according to our constitution and within our legal framework. And we do not like any type of international interventions. Within a domestic mechanism, we should have a credible process to deal with the human right violation issues in the past.

 

Q:  Does the JVP think that the government is going on the right direction at present?

A: No. We do not think so.  If the government intended to take genuine actions for national unity and reconciliation, the government could have submitted their own proposal to the UN Human rights council. Instead the government just cosponsored the USA proposal. If the government had a genuine idea they could have done it differently and informed the UN human rights council about a domestic process which we are ready to put in place.

 

Q:       What other concerns does the JVP have at present?

A: There are so many economic issues arising day by day. People are suffering a lot due to the economic situation in the country.

 

1 Comment for “Abolition Of Executive Presidency Must Come First – Vijitha Herath”

  1. ranjit demel

    i do not waste my time reading the bla bla of the jvp,but sirisena has tasted power and the sinhalla Buddhist nationalisti champika r, is waiting for his Chance,hence e.p. remains

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