The Government is bound to grapple with increased pressure to conduct the elections to the Provincial Councils this year. It is likely to happen particularly after the Northern Provincial Council (NPC) stands dissolved in October, this year. Already, the elections are overdue for three councils-North-Central, Sabaragamuwa and Eastern Provincial Councils.
- Elections cannot be conducted because the Government enacted fresh legislations last year
- PC elections are overdue for three councils
- NFF led by MP Wimal Weerawansa is trying to conduct a protest rally in Colombo
The elections cannot be conducted to them because the Government enacted fresh legislations last year seeking to introduce a new electoral system. The evolution of the new system is now stuck halfway, creating a pall of uncertainty over the possibility to have elections in the near future.
By October, the Northern, Central and North-Western Provincial Councils will stand dissolved, totalling up the number of bodies with pending elections to six. As
obvious from all what it does, the Government lacks the political will to conduct the elections fearing negative results that could deteriorate its political standing in the country ahead of the presidential election scheduled to be conducted towards the end of next year. In fact, two Government MPs who were planning to
contest as the Chief Minister candidates to the Central Provincial Council have reportedly backtracked from their positions after the United National Party (UNP), despite being the ruling party, got a trouncing at the local Government elections on February 10, 2018. State Minister Lucky Jayawardane is one MP who aspired to be the Chief Minister of the Central Provincial Council. Now, it is learnt that he is hesitant to contest.
Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran has already objected to any delay in conducting the polls on the basis that it would even deny the meagre amount of power shared with the periphery
Come what may, it will be an arduous task for the Government to withhold elections to the NPC which is the only Provincial Council controlled by a minority party. Actually, there is no political clamour from people living outside the north and the east for the strengthening of the Provincial Council system. Let alone, it is very much the case in the north and the east.
In fact, politics is based upon the agitation for devolution of power to the Provincial Councils in the north and the east. In case, the elections are not conducted in the north, it will be seen and interpreted as a move denying political rights to the Tamil people.
As such pressure will build on the Government to have elections. Likewise, the government, only with the support of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), secured the required two-thirds for the enactment of legislation that enabled the postponement of elections to three Provincial Councils last year. The TNA is a party agitating for extensive power-sharing with the central government.
As such, if the TNA acts in a manner that is favourable to the postponement of elections in the north, it will go against the grain. It will cost dearly to the TNA in political terms. Also, the TNA has accepted the 13th Amendment, which provided for the establishment of Provincial Councils, as the basis for a solution to the ethnic problem. It will undoubtedly face political heat in the event the elections are withheld in the north.
It is more so as Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran has already objected to any delay in conducting the polls on the basis that it would even deny the meagre degree of power shared with the periphery in terms of the constitution.
Though he was nominated to the post by the TNA, there is animosity between him and the TNA leadership at the moment. His accusation is that the TNA is pandering to the whims and fancies of the Government rather than agitating for the rights of Tamil. Mr Wigneswaran has carved out his political niche in the north at the moment. Against the backdrop, the TNA will face fierce objection from Mr Wigneswaran in case it maintains a stoic silence over any move to delay the polls.
Ahead of the elections, there are new political dynamics emerging in the north. Mr Wigneswarn has clearly spelt out that he will form a new party in the event he is not given nomination by the TNA. Against the backdrop, talks have been undertaken with the parties such as the All Ceylon Tamil Congress to form a broad alliance as an alternative to the TNA at the future elections.
No finality has been reached in this regard, though. Mr Wigneswaran insists that the TNA should agree to proposals to be put forward by him if he is to remain with them at future elections. In the meantime, it is learnt there are efforts by some countries, having political interests in Sri Lanka, to unite the TNA and Mr.Wigneswaran.
Ranil introduces Sajith to Singapore PM
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe undertook a tour of Singapore recently to attend an international summit. During his stay, he received invitations for official dinner meetings.
On one such occasion, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong commended Prime Minister Wickremesinghe’s statements and opined that Sri Lanka would become a global hub if the proposals outlined there were implemented.
In case, the elections are not conducted in the north, it will be seen and interpreted as a move denying political rights to the Tamil people.
Mr Wickremesinghe was accompanied by Housing Minister Sajith Premadasa. The Prime Minister introduced Mr Premadasa to the Singapore leader. At the dinner table, Mr Premadasa and the Singaporean premier were seated next to each other. According to sources, the Prime Minister referred to Mr Premadasa as a potential future leader of Sri Lanka.
Wimal’s party to have a separate protest rally
The Joint Opposition appears to be having differences of opinion on the move to conduct a rally in Colombo. Initially, it was planned by the youth MPs of the party to be conducted on August 17, 2018. Yet, it was put off till September 5 due to the G.C.E. Advanced Level Examination falling in between. MP Namal Rajapaksa said the protest, if conducted on August 17, would put A/L candidates through a difficult process.
No, it is learnt that National Freedom Front (NFF) led by MP Wimal Weerawansa is averse to the postponement. Instead, the NFF is trying to conduct a protest rally in Colombo.