Local Government and Provincial Councils Minister Faizer Musthapha said he met elections monitoring watchdogs PAFFREL, CaFFE, CMEV and the Transparency International and they consented to conduct Provincial Council elections in a single day departing from the policy adopted by the previous regime to hold PC polls on a scattered basis for political advantage.
Minister Musthapha added that the cabinet approval has been granted to introduce amendments to the Provincial Councils Election Act no. 2 of 1998 enabling elections to all 9 PCs to be conducted on a single day citing the holding of PC polls on a scattered basis was a waste of state public money and the negative effect it has on democracy.
Addressing the SLFP weekly news briefing at the party office yesterday Minister Musthapha said the Parliament would decide on the date on which the PC polls could be conducted once the amendments were passed in a two thirds majority. The Steering Committee on Constitutional Reforms had also agreed to hold PC polls in a single day
The term of office of 9 provinces is scheduled to expire in four stages which is Sabaragamuwa, Eastern and North-Central in September / October period, Central, Wayamba and Northern in October 2018, Central, Southern and Western in April 2019 and Uva in October 2019.
Commenting on the amendments to the Local Government Electoral (Amendments) Act no. 12 of 2012, Minister Musthapha said the amendments had been gazetted and tabled in the Order Book of Parliament. Under the proposed new amendments the ratio of local government members elected under the first past the post system will be reduced to 60% from earlier 70% and the number of representatives chosen under the PR system will be increased to 40% from 30%. The women representation will be 25%.
“If party leaders can come to a compromise, amendments can be passed in the next session of Parliament and local government polls can be conducted in three months after that,” Minister Musthapha stressed.
Minister Musthapha said his Ministry had completed its task of drafting and gazeting of 56 amendments that delayed the conducting of local government polls and as such party leaders must decide how soon they want to pass the amendments in Parliament paying the way for early local government polls.
“I have written to Speaker Karu Jayasuriya to expedite the process to pass the amendments as early as possible and also appraised President Maithripala Sirisena on the matter,” Minister Muthapha said.
Minister Musthapha lamented that before the submission of the De-limitation committee report and the drafting of the amendments, the joint opposition criticized him and his ministry unfairly for the delay to conduct polls. Now that, the de-limitation report and amendments proposed by it had been gazetted no one is interested in passing the amendments.
Minister Mustapha said the government had no intention to postpone the Local Government election for any reason but to hold the polls as early as possible. Therefore, the government expects the cooperation of all political parties and the joint opposition in particular to pass the amendments paving way for early elections. Pics by Samantha Perera.
Responding to a journalist, Minister Murhapha said the 66th anniversary of the SLFP was scheduled to be celebrated with at massive rally the Campbell Park on September 2nd and appealed all SLFP members of the joint oppositionot to do the mistake done by past SLFPers who betrayed the party and had to repent for their sin later on.
In Sri Lanka, we have only two major parties that can form a government which are the UNP and the SLFP. Many disgruntled senior members of the two parties in the past left the party but perished. Some others came back and took a back seat and another few retired from politics. So I appealed all of the disappointed SLFPers to rethink formingh of new parties and come back to the SLFP if you want to remain in active politics, Minister Musthapha said. (Sandun A Jayasekera)