Govt. to hold parliamentary, presidential polls together

by Zacki Jabbar

The government is, in consultation with political parties, exploring the possibility of holding both parliamentary and presidential polls on the same day, says Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne. 

 "Conducting local, provincial , parliamentary and presidential elections on separate days had resulted in a waste of valuable financial resources and also caused declining interest among  the voters," Senaratne said on Friday, adding that there had been a positive response from many political parties to the governments proposal. 

Local authorities have, since July last year, been run by Special Commissioners or District Secretaries.

Terms of the  Eastern, North Central and Sabaragamuwa Provincial Councils  will expire between Sept. 6 and Oct.1, this year.

The Central, Northern and North Western Provincial Councils would complete their terms in September of 2018. Polls to the  Western and Southern Provincial Councils are due in March of 2019 and Uva Provincial Council in September 2019.

The government  announced recently that it had gazetted the proposed 20th Amendment to the Constitution, approved by the Cabinet  of Ministers. Parliament, it said, would determine the date on which all Provincial Councils were to be dissolved.

Senaratne said there were two options. Elections to all provincial councils could be held  by early next year or after all the Councils had completed their terms in Sept. 2019. "The most feasible option considering the demands  of some sections of the Opposition would be to conduct all the local and provincial polls early next year  and on a single day, as agreed on by the Cabinet of Ministers recently."

Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera said a decision would be taken in consultation and agreement with all the Provincial Councils.

Senaratne said that all political parties including the JVP wanted a new Constitution. The only exception was the faction of the UPFA led by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

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