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Governance Concerns Of Ethnic Minorities Must Also Be Part Of Election Campaign

| The following statement issued by the National Peace Council

( November 26, 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) One of the major campaign themes at the forthcoming Presidential election is the issue of good governance, specifically the abolishing of the Executive Presidency and de-politicising of institutions of state. There has been a continuous erosion of the independence of the main institutions of governance over the past four decades that began with the First Republican Constitution of 1972. In recent years there has been an even greater centralization of power in the hands of the Presidency which has been justified by national security considerations.

The National Peace Council welcomes the declarations by the opposition political parties that they will institute reforms with regard to good governance if they obtain victory at the forthcoming presidential elections. However, good governance needs to also take into account the existence of an ethnic conflict in the country. It was the long unresolved ethnic conflict that first emerged during the British colonial period that finally led to three decades of civil war. Finding a solution to the ethnic conflict needs to be given priority. It is also important to address the concerns of the ethnic minorities in order to make them full participants in the electoral process.

The National Peace Council believes that the concept of good governance needs to be widened so that it embraces the concerns of the ethnic and religious minorities. The discussion on issues of power sharing and devolution of power need need to be made a part of the discourse on good governance. Greater devolution means not only good governance, but also greater and wider democracy. It also means reduction of centralisation of power while addressing the long festering ethnic conflict by ensuring power sharing between the ethnic communities and outlawing ethnic-based discrimination. Whoever wins the election will need to deal with these issues of good governance also.

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