Speaker Karu Jayasuriya affirmed that there was no decision taken at the Party Leader’s meeting on Monday to scrap or amend the law making 25% female representation mandatory. He said in situations where there is an issue with the numbers of females, then that issue would be taken up in Parliament later.

The Speaker was responding to a point of order raised by MP Dullas Alahapperuma in Parliament yesterday.

Joint Opposition MP Dallas Alahapperuma referring to newspaper reports said these reports indicated that the government had decided to do away with the decision taken earlier with regard to making 25% female representation compulsory.

This situation has been discussed at various platforms, he said noting that three nominations of the Podu Jana Peramuna had been rejected including Maharagama and Mahiyanganaya for not having the required number of female’s names despite females being nominated. “This was such an important issue and as such, this decision being taken now to change that stand is not at all justifiable.”

In response, the Speaker said a discussion was held yesterday attended by the Elections Commission officials, Provincial Councils and Local Government Minister and the Ministry Secretary, MPs Dinesh Gunawardena and Keheliya Rambukwella and this matter was discussed at length. “We were able to resolve it to a great degree,” he noted.

Alahapperuma said at the LG elections, the previous 30% youth representation was scrapped in order to bring in the 25% female representation. “The youth representation made mandatory during President Premadasa’s tenure was completely discarded and female representation was made mandatory.”

He also noted that even previous provincial councillors and secretaries were added onto the supplementary list in order to allow more females to be elected.“Moreover, the government carried on their entire election campaign depicting the female representation issue as a major victory they had gained in local politics. That’s how they got the votes. Once a match has been played and completed, one cannot count the number of no balls bowled,” he quipped.

Meanwhile, responding to Alahapperuma’s allegations, Leader of the House and Highways and Higher Education Minister Lakshman Kiriella said at Monday’s meeting they had decided to continue with the 25% female representation. “However, in some councils the 25% cannot be obtained and in such situations we decided to bring in required amendments later on. It is a wrong notion that we had decided to reduce female representation,” he added.

TNA MP M.A.Sumanthiran agreeing with Kiriella said it was decided that the law will be implemented as it is, but after that is done, if there is a situation where it is a case of impossibility, then parliament will address that issue. There was no decision taken to act outside the law or to amend the law to deal with the situation that has already arisen,” said Sumanthiran.

The Speaker also invited MP Keheliya Rambukwella to clarify the situation as he had also participated in the meeting on Monday. The decision taken at Monday’s meeting was to continue with the same 25% female representation as the main law and deal with any situation where that is deemed absolutely impossible, later on.

MP Dinesh Gunawardena said it was discussed before the Commission that if a certain number of female members is less but the party has over 50% of members, such institutions can be established legitimately. “In such instances, there is no obstacle of which list these members came from. Other than that we never discussed about changing any other law.”

Thereafter the Speaker agreed to notify the relevant newspapers that had published news articles stating that the 25% female representation clause was to be discarded, to correct their error.

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