In a bid to hold much delayed provincial council elections soon after parliamentary polls, Legal Reforms Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva has appointed a committee of top officials to study the current crisis in the electoral system and propose amendments.
The minister told Daily Mirror today that he discussed the matter with representatives of the Elections Commission, Attorney General’s Department, Legal Draftsman’s Department and the Ministries of Justice, Human Rights and Legal Reforms.
“I appointed a committee and instructed them to study the Provincial Councils Elections (Amendment) Act of 2017, the delimitation report and relevant legislation that had led to the delay in conducting PC polls and to submit a report as soon as possible. The government expects to hold PC polls soon after parliamentary elections are held in late April. A decision will be taken on whether PC polls should be conducted according to the old electoral system or the new one. Whatever the way PC polls are held, parliamentary approval is needed,” he said.
Meanwhile, Legal Officer of Local Government and Provincial Councils, Gayani Prematilaka said PC polls could not be conducted under the new electoral system unless shortcomings found in the delimitation report were rectified.
“The government’s stance is that PC polls need to be held as early as possible because all nine provinces were without people’s representation and under the rule of governors. Some provinces have been under the rule of governors for nearly two years. In 2018, former President Maithripala Sirisena appointed a three-member committee chaired by former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. Failure to conduct PC polls could have been addressed much earlier if the former premier had submitted the report by the three-member committee to look into the flawed material. The best thing to do under the prevailing situation is to amend the Provincial Councils Election (Amendment) Act with the consent of party leaders thus paving the way for early PC polls,” she said. (Sandun A. Jayasekera)