Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) Chairman G.L. Peiris claimed yesterday that a two-thirds majority was needed to draft legislation that would “rid the country of extremism” and “strengthen the defence apparatus”.
The statement comes as there is international outcry over the establishment of two Presidential Tasks forces which aimed to accelerate the Sinhalisation of the North-East and to create a “disciplined” society. Both task forces have been heavily condemned by the international community with the latter being seen as a “threat to the rule of law”.
Investigation into Easter Sunday attacks
During his speech, Peiris claimed that the Presidential Commission of Inquiry was working to find the culprits behind the Easter Sunday attacks, which claimed over 250 lives.
He stated that the inquiry would uncover “both the local and foreign origins of attacks”.
Peiris went on to state that financial restrictions were needed to curb terrorist activities.
“Large amounts of money are flowing into the country, but the sources are not known. There is no accountability. The External Resource Department at the Finance Ministry should monitor and regulate these funds,” he said.
This statement follows Sri Lankan Prime Minister, who called for a special inquiry into Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) who he claims are “spreading slander against the government”.
According to a Sri Lankan parliamentary select committee report, the country’s security forces were given intelligence that showed that an attack was due to take place on Easter Sunday but may have permitted it to ‘create chaos and instil fear’ ahead of presidential elections. That election led to the victory of Rajapaksa who claimed the previous regime ‘diluted’ intelligence services, which he has since pledged to strengthen.
Attacking “foreign conspirators” and defending war criminals
Peiris repeated his calls for a two-thirds majority maintaining that it was necessary to protect the armed forces from allegations levied by international forces.
He chastised the previous administration for co-sponsoring the UN Human Rights resolution which he alleges did "incalculable damage to the good name" of Sri Lanka's armed forces.
Sri Lanka’s military stands accused of a litany of war crimes and human rights abuses which include those committed during the final stages of the war, where an estimated 40,000-70,000 were killed, where hospitals were shelled, and civilians were summarily executed.
More recently, UN Special Rapporteur Clément N. Voule expressed repeated concern at how “rapidly” changes had taken place in Sri Lanka since presidential elections last year, citing ethnic discrimination, militarisation, and intimidation of civil society in an address to the UN Human Rights Council.
A two-thirds majority
Peiris further alleged that opposition parties were committed to preventing the SLPP from getting a two-thirds majority.
A two-thirds majority is seen as necessary to repeal the 19th amendment which was brought in to limit the executive power of the Presidency.
Rajapaksa has further called for amendments to weaken the voices of religious and ethnic-based parties.
His proposed bill would raise the threshold of votes political parties would need to secure from 5 to 12 per cent. This would effectively silence Muslim political parties as well as significantly weaken other parties who will be unlikely to meet this threshold.
The proposed measure requires a two-thirds majority in parliament for it to be able to pass through.
Read more from the Daily Mirror