John breaks ranks with govt; abstains from voting


by Saman Indrajith

All government ministers and MPs voted against an amendment sponsored by the Joint Opposition seeking to permit public servants to contest elections, but Labour, Trade Union Relations and Sabaragamuwa Development Minister W.D.J. Seneviratne abstained.According to the provisions of the Local Government Elections (Amendment) bill the public servants are required to resign one year prior to contesting a local government election. The JO proposed an amendment to remove that barrier from the draft bill. The government rejected the amendment and a vote was taken.

Contacted for comment, the minister told the media that depriving the field officers of their democratic right to contest elections amounted to violating their fundamental rights and his conscience did not permit him to vote with government members.

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