Local polls on March 20, 25

by Sumadhu Weerawarne
Local governments polls will be on March 20 and 25. Elections will be held on a staggered basis, with polls in areas outside of the north and east being held on the March 20, incidentally the day on which the budget speech will be made in Parliament, and polls in the north and east scheduled for March 25.

A senior Elections Department official said that nominations had been called from all areas of the country, even those designated uncleared areas, and the department was going ahead with its work, though as it is definite that elections in the entire Northern and the Eastern provinces excluding the Amapara district (Digamadulla electoral district) will be postponed. "The department has not officially been informed of any such step," the senior official said.

Senior government sources confirmed that elections would only be postponed in the northern province and the Trincomalee and Batticaloa districts in the eastern province.

They said that the government had already submitted the proposed amendments to the Local Government Act and would present the Amendment bill to Parliament on March 19, the date on which the appropriation bill too will be presented. Among the proposed amendments are provisions that would empower the Elections Commissioner to postpone elections. This would enable him to postpone elections in the north and areas of the east as anticipated by the government.

Meanwhile, nominations closed yesterday. The Elections Department was unable to give the official status of certain districts including the Colombo district, on nominations. Parties are contesting for election to 311 local bodies countrywide: 18 Municipal Councils, 37 Urban Councils and 256 Pradeshiya Sabhas. Of these there are 71 for the North and East areas.