Govt. confirms NPC polls for September

Clearing the air after months of speculations on the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, the government yesterday confirmed that the Northern Provincial Council (NPC) Elections would be held in September as declared by President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Cabinet spokesman, Petroleum Industries Minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa addressing the weekly Cabinet news briefing at the Information Department said government had no intention whatsoever to postpone the Northern PC polls, repeal the 13th Amendment or introduce amendments to the Constitution to remove police and land powers to the provinces.

“I can assure you that the government has not taken a decision to make any changes to the existing legislative procedure in respect of Provincial Councils. President Rajapaksa has clearly stated that the elections to the Northern PC would be held in September and therefore the status quo remains,” Minister Yapa reiterated.

Various comments and protests had been made for and against the PC system and preferential voting system since they were introduced in 1987 and 1978 respectively. The JVP set fire to the entire country in 1987 when the 13th Amendment was introduced to create the PC system but later they fell in line and contested the PC polls, he said.

Commenting on protests to the conducting of Northern PC polls by certain constituent partners such as the JHU and the NFF within the UPFA government, Minister Yapa said constituent partners of the UPFA government were entitled to their individual opinion.

On a move by the JHU to present a private member’s bill in Parliament to repeal the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, Minister Yapa said private members had presented bills in the legislature since the time of the Stat Council. The government did not want to repeal the 13th Amendment and the private member’s bills were private matters of the respective political parties or members, but not of the government.

Minister Yapa said if the government introduced the Constitution or amendments to the Constitution it would be through a consensus by all stakeholders and that was why the government took measures to constitute a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) to discuss all issues related to power devolution, police and land powers to PCs and security issues of the provinces.

“Unfortunately, the TNA keeps us in suspense and has not nominated its representatives to the PSC. The government would resort to a power devolution process or introduce constitutional changes only through an extensive political interaction with all political parties and other stakeholders. However, the government is glad to see that the TNA is getting ready to contest the Northern PC polls and has accepted the concept of a united Sri Lanka,’ Minister Yapa added. (Sandun A. Jayasekera)

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