Local Elections under new electoral system, officially re-demarcated boundaries

Completion of official re-demarcation process unlikely before June

by Zacki Jabbar

The delay in holding local polls was because the  government wants to  conduct it under the new electoral system, which entailed the official re-demarcation of electoral boundaries,  informed  sources said yesterday.

Dismissing  claims by a group of UPFA parliamentarians led by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa  that  the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration was running sacred of the challenge they had mounted,  government sources told the Sunday Island that the 19th Amendment had been introduced with the objective of holding elections under a mix of the First Past the Post and Proportional Representation Systems.

"What is the use in passing legislation if it is not implemented? Official and proper re-demarcation of electoral borders would take some time  and it appears increasingly likely that the process may  not be completed before June. But, we are trying hard to finish as early as possible", they said.

Dinesh Gunawardena, MP, who on Friday was  given approval by Speaker Karu Jayasuriya to make statements on behalf of the Rajapaksa Faction, with the consent of the UPFA Parliamentary Group Leader Nimal Siripala de Silva, claimed that electoral boundaries had been re-demarcated sometime back and there should be no impediment to conducting polls in April.

However, Leader of the House and Minister of University Education and Highways Lakshman Kiriella said that the  previous Rajapaksa government had been a government only by name, since  most decisions pertaining to the country were taken by a select group headed by the Rajapaksa brothers and then virtually forced down the throats of the  Cabinet of Ministers.

The Election Commissioner  should have been consulted on the re-demarcation process but he had been totally ignored. It was done privately and according to the whims and fancies of the Rajapaksa’s and their select group of Ministers and MPs, he said adding that the official process would obviously take some time.

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa said in Colombo last week that it won’t be easy for his opponents to chase him away from the SLFP. "They are trying to throw me out of the party,  but  it won’t be  that  easy."

Rajapaksa has  so far remained non-committal about the widely speculated new party to be established under his leadership.

General Secretary of the UNP and  Minister of Public Enterprise Development said that his party was  ready to  face elections at any time.

"The United National Front led by the UNP is in the  process of  discussing alliances with various parties. The recent Memorandum of Understanding entered into with the Democratic Party led by Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka was a step in the direction of  forming the broadest possible in the run up  to local polls", he said.


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