The Local Government Polls will be held in the first week of February next year, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said today. However he said the ultimate decision on this would be decided by the Election Commission.
The Prime Minister gave this assurance at a public meeting in Bingiriya last evening. "The next local government election will be actually a trial to test the effectiveness of the new mixed electoral system introduced recently and if it is a success it will be used for the Parliamentary polls as well" he said.
" The mixed electoral system was first proposed by the select committee appointed by the UNP in 2003.This committee was chaired by MP Dinesh Gunawardene. However we were not in favour of everything proposed by that committee. Therefore discussions took place and finally all the parties agreed on one system and it was unanimously passed in Parliament," he added.
The Prime Minister recalled that a new electoral system was introduced in order to address some of the deficiencies of the PR system as candidates of the same party used to attack each other to get more preferential votes," he said.
Mr Wickremesinghe took the opportunity to thank all those who filed legal action against the delimitation commission for agreeing to withdraw their petitions. " I got the Minister of Local Government Faiszer Musthapha to discuss matters with them and come to an amicable agreement," he added while stating that the courts did not heed the request made by the Attorney General to expedite the hearing of the case prior to the petitions being withdrawn.
He said the mixed system will bring back the ward system which existed before where 40 per cent of the candidates would be elected according to the votes which political parties receive.
Mr Wickremesinghe explained that his party had decided to form a government with the SLFP as the UNP was a forward thinking party with a vision for the country. " It is obvious that our two parties face issues as we are two separate political parties. However we are going forward together " he said.
UNP Deputy General Secretary and Minister of Education Akila Viraj Kariyawasam invited all SLFPers to join the UNP. " I would like to invite SLFP members to join us and help to develop the nation at this time," he said. (Yohan Perera in Bingiriya)