One more hur­dle next we lo­cal coun­cil elec­tions in

Elec­tion Com­mis­sion Chair­man gives ex­ten­sive in­ter­view ex­plain­ing why elec­tions were de­layed; wards be­ing carved out, three na­tional lists from each party

Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) - - NEWS -

By Our Po­lit­i­cal Ed­i­tor

State ma­chin­ery has be­gun to grind slowly but surely for lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions in Jan­uary next year but a Provin­cial Coun­cil poll is shrouded by more un­cer­tainty over new pro­ce­dural and legal is­sues. Blueprints are ready with the Min­istry of Provin­cial Coun­cils and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment to en­sure nom­i­na­tions next month for polls in the third week of Jan­uary next year. There are 335 lo­cal bod­ies – 271 Pradeshiya Sab­has, 41 Ur­ban Coun­cils and 23 Mu­nic­i­pal Coun­cils. A for­mal an­nounce­ment will come in the form of a Gazette no­ti­fi­ca­tion to be is­sued by the Min­is­ter. Blueprints are al­ready be­ing pre­pared by the Min­istry and the likely poll dates are ei­ther Jan­uary 20 or 27 next year.

Of course, that is af­ter the Gov­ern­ment clears one more hur­dle. That would be the string of amend­ments it will move on Mon­day (Oc­to­ber 9) in Par­lia­ment. Th­ese are at the sec­ond read­ing of The Mu­nic­i­pal Coun­cils (Amend­ment) Bill, The Ur­ban Coun­cils (Amend­ment) Bill and The Pradeshiya Sabha (Amend­ment) Bill. That will em­power the Min­is­ter to pub­lish a new gazette no­ti­fi­ca­tion, said Elec­tion Com­mis­sion Chair­man Mahinda De­shapriya.

“For ex­am­ple,” he said “the Min­is­ter has to an­nounce that the Colombo Mu­nic­i­pal Coun­cil should elect 66 mem­bers through First Past the Post (FPP) and 44 through Pro­por­tional Rep­re­sen­ta­tion. It will bring down the num­ber of mem­bers in the CMC to 110 from 113.” Yet, the ear­lier num­ber of mem­bers of the CMC, which now stands dis­solved, is 53. Sim­i­larly, De­shapriya said, in the Am­balan­goda Ur­ban Coun­cil it would be 12 mem­bers elected via FPP and eight through PR. Pre­vi­ously, he noted, the Min­is­ter had to only give the lim­its of a lo­cal gov­ern­ment body and the num­ber to be elected in a gazette no­ti­fi­ca­tion. The num­bers in each body would vary, he pointed out.

The Elec­tion Com­mis­sion hopes that by the com­ing Tues­day Speaker Karu Jaya­suriya will sign the dec­la­ra­tion that the three amended statutes are “duly passed.” De­shapriya said, “We will have to cer­tify that it is the Elec­toral Reg­is­ter for 2017 on which the lo­cal polls will be held. Such a cer­ti­fi­ca­tion will take place on Oc­to­ber 12 on a ward by ward ba­sis. There are 4,000 such wards, he said. “We need an­other week to ten days to is­sue no­tice. That is likely on Oc­to­ber 20.”

Ear­lier, the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion had planned to for­mally an­nounce elec­tions to three Provin­cial Coun­cils (PCs) on Oc­to­ber 2. This is for PCs for Sabaraga­muwa (term ended on Septem­ber 26), North Cen­tral (term ended on Septem­ber 30) and Eastern (term ended on Oc­to­ber 1). How­ever, the Provin­cial Coun­cil Elec­tions (Amend­ment) Act was taken up in Par­lia­ment a fort­night back call­ing a halt to all its plans and ar­range­ments.

The new law, De­shapriya said, has changed the “en­tire sys­tem.” The 70: 30 ra­tio for elec­tions (FPP and PR) was changed to 60:40. Fe­male rep­re­sen­ta­tion of 25%, which in terms of the orig­i­nal bill was through a sep­a­rate list, was brought into the PR list. The new sys­tem in­cor­po­rated in the law that was passed is 100 per cent Pro­por­tional Rep­re­sen­ta­tion. Win­ners in the wards will be elected but the rest will come from the list. The Com­mis­sion has to en­sure that 25 per­cent of the fe­male mem­bers are in­cluded. Ear­lier, the win­ners at a PC elec­tion were picked through a Pref­er­ence Vote (or a man­ape). There are no more losers. We will dis­trib­ute the seats via the PR sys­tem, De­shapriya said.

De­shapriya de­clared that ev­ery­one was ask­ing why he an­nounced that Provin­cial Coun­cil elec­tions would be held in Jan­uary next year. He said he made the re­marks on the ba­sis that there were only three days when a PC poll was pos­si­ble in De­cem­ber. That too were Satur­days. They were De­cem­ber 2, 9 and 16. “We could not have had it on De­cem­ber 2 be­cause the day be­fore that was Mi­lad-un-Nabi, Prophet Muhammed’s birth­day. De­cem­ber 3 was a Poya Day. GCE (OL) ex­am­i­na­tion has been sched­uled to be­gin on De­cem­ber 16. Thus, we can­not use the schools as polling sta­tions. There­fore, the only date avail­able was De­cem­ber 9. Those are the rea­sons. The re­quire­ment was that we had to de­cide on PC elec­tions 70 to 75 days from end of Oc­to­ber. Af­ter the GCE (OL) ex­am­i­na­tion it was not only the Christ­mas hol­i­days. It is manda­tory that Gov­ern­ment sec­tor ac­counts would have to be com­pleted be­fore the end of

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Sri Lanka

© PressReader. All rights reserved.