These meetings also discussed the importance of protecting the 19th Amendment and strengthening independent commissions in order to ensure that democracy prevailed in the country. Panellists at the meetings included NPC Executive Director Dr. Jehan Perera, NPC Project Manager Saman Seneviratne, lawyers Probodha Rathnayaka and Athila Athauda, National Coordinator of the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence Manjula Gajanayake and civil society activist Ahilan Kadirgamar.
The panellists emphasised the importance of people realising the power of their vote and how they should vote for candidates who were not corrupt and were capable of building national policies that could take the country forward economically while strengthening its peace and reconciliation process.
Discussions centred around the importance of protecting the 19th Amendment as it helped to protect the democracy of the country by establishing independent commissions, the Right to Information Act and by decreasing the executive power of the President and delegating it to the Prime Minister and Parliament.
Several young people attended the meetings, showing the younger generation’s desire to hold a clean and fair election and elect candidates who were capable of forming the constitutional changes needed to protect democracy of the country and the rights of all citizens regardless of their ethnic and religious differences.
“There have been human right issues for several years so a strong constitution is needed to protect the people. But most people do not know about the constitution and the amendments that have been made to strengthen democracy so this meeting is a really good initiative,” said retired teaching instructor, Mr. Kodituwakku.
“These meetings conducted by the NPC are very timely because it is vital to create awareness on the importance of democracy and electing politicians who have the capacity to formulate national policies for the development of the country while ensuring peace. It is important to create awareness about the value of a person’s informed vote. People need to be capable of making decisions that are not religiously biased nor favour one’s ethnicity. Instead they should take decisions that are good for the future of the country,” said Ms. Indrani Kusumalatha from the Praja Diriya Foundation.
She added that it was important to create awareness among female local government officials on the constitution and the power of democracy to enable them to participate in the decision making process.