issue: Consensus closer
By Chandani Kirinde
The United National Party and the Jathika Hela Urumaya will provide
the Government with conditional support to pass the Elections (Special
provisions) Bill which would make identity cards compulsory for
voters at all future elections.
UNP will support a CWC amendment moved by MP V. Puthrasigamani to
ensure that the Elections Department certifies that all administrative
arrangements relating to the issue of identity cards have been made,
to its satisfaction, and to ensure that persons entitled to vote
are not precluded from exercising their franchise.
amendment will also call for the Registrar of Persons to provide
a certification that he has received reports in respect of all electoral
districts that all citizens have received their identity cards.
National Organiser Ven. Kolonnawe Sumangala Thera told The Sunday
Times that his party would vote in favour of the bill when it comes
up for a vote in Parliament this week, only if the government agreed
to its proposal to the appointment of a monitoring committee .
CWC amendment also calls for a representative of each party in Parliament
forming into a monitoring committee to supervise the implementation
of this law.
if the UPFA Government accepts these proposals will it be able to
muster a majority for the passage of the bill. As many as 3.8 million
Sri Lankan citizens, over a third of the country's voting population,
do not have National Identity Cards.
bulk of the persons without NICs are in the southern parts of the
country, with Colombo (200,000), Gampaha (300,000), Anuradhapura
(200,000 ), Kurunegala (280,000) and most of the other districts
at least 100,000 each.
North and East have a separate problem. Almost 400,000 Jaffna voters
have no NICs. The situation in the plantations is not as bad as
earlier thought, Nuwara-Eliya having 160,000 without NICs, though
several new citizens have not obtained citizenship papers to register
adjourned debate on the bill will continue in Parliament on Wednesday
while the voting has been fixed for Thursday. The Government has
agreed to an earlier opposition demand to introduce an amendment
to the Bill to make provision for its implementation to become effective,
one year after it is passed coupled with a guarantee that the vast
majority of the estimated 3.8 million eligible voters without NICs
would be issued with cards within this period.
Supreme Court has found the bill consistent with the Constitution
after it was referred to the Court by the President as an urgent
bill to ascertain its constitutionality.
TNA leader R. Sambanthan claimed that nearly half of the voters
without NICs were from the north and east and the plantation sector
and the Government must guarantee that this bill would not prejudice
any section of the people when it becomes effective.
TNA has also called for an amendment to the bill on the lines of
the Puthrasigamani proposal.
without an identity!
At least two party leaders have no National Identity Cards,
and will not be allowed to vote at a future election if the Government's
bill to enforce the production of NICs for voting purposes comes
into force with immediate effect, The Sunday Times was told.
two are Opposition UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and JHU leader
Ven. Ellawela Medhananda Thera.
Mr. Wickremesinghe said that his identity card was no longer valid,
and needed to be renewed, while Ven. Medananda Thera said that the
JVP took his identity card away during the 1987-89 reign of terror.