Hung LG bodies cause headache for political parties

Executive Director of Transparency International Sri Lanka Asoka Obesekere has warned of political turmoil for want of a particular party gaining absolute majority in about 160 local government bodies at just concluded local government polls.

Countrywide elections were held for 340 local government bodies. Elpitiya Pradeshiya Sabha is the only exception due to a court directive.

Obesekere asserted that those having the majority in hung local government bodies would find it difficult to secure required support to form an administration.

Obesekera said so in response to a query from Shameer Rasooldeen, on Face the Nation (FTN) live on TV 1 Monday night. The panel comprised attorney-at-law Chrishmal Warnasuriya, defeated UPFA Colombo district mayoral candidate Azath Salley and News Editor of The Island Shamindra Ferdinando. In addition to Rasooldeen, Nadim Majeed and Charitha Fernando posed questions with Salley blaming Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the UNP for Saturday’s devastating defeat.

"Nobody expected this," a disappointed Salley said, demanding that Wickremesinghe quit the party leadership as well as the premiership. The former UNPer claimed that the SLFP parliamentary group and a sizeable section of the UNP parliamentary group wanted Wickremesinghe removed immediately.

Salley blamed Wickremesinghe and his close associates, including Minister Malik Samarawickrema for treasury bond scams, involving perpetual treasuries limited.

But, it was pointed out to Salley that the second far bigger treasury bond scam could have been averted had President Maithripala Sirisena not dissolved parliament in June 2015 to save those who had perpetrated the first treasury bond scam. Salley was also told that the SLFP group in yahapalana government couldn’t disassociate itself from the three-year administration and the government never realized its folly in humiliating the armed forces by way of co-sponsoring Geneva Resolution 30/1 meant to establish hybrid war crimes court.

Salley found fault with President Sirisena for not acting swiftly and decisively to rein in the UNP.

Referring to ongoing efforts to reach agreement in respect of leadership in hung councils, Salley said that heads were to be elected in secret vote. However, Obesekere said that in accordance with Local Authorities Election Ordinance it was to be an open vote.

Obeysekera said that there were 177 local government bodies with a particular party having the majority.

Warnasuriya disputed the assertion that 2015 mandate had been overridden by outcome at Feb. 10 poll. Warnasuriya, who had been on the JVP National List at the last parliamentary poll, explained how the breakup of UNP-SLFP alliance would result in restriction on the number of ministers in accordance with the 19thAmendment to the Constitution.

In response to a query, a panelist asserted that no one should find fault with former President Rajapaksa for entering parliament from Kurunegala district when twice president Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga ended up being Attanagalle SLFP organizer. The FTN was also told now that Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) had comfortably secured LG poll, the outfit under Rajapaksa’s leadership could contest forthcoming Provincial Council polls followed by presidential and parliamentary elections.

North Central, North Western and Northern Provincial Councils will be automatically dissolved on Oct 8, 10 and 24, 2018, respectively. Southern, Western and Uva Provincial Councils will be automatically dissolved on April 10, April 21 and Oct. 8, 2019, respectively.

Salley alleged that there had been a secret deal between Rajapaksa and Wickremesinghe that caused debilitating setback to yahapalana administration.

Responding to another query, Salley admitted that though he had been defeated at Feb. 10 polls, there was provision for those who were rejected to receive appointments through party lists. Salley said that he hadn’t so far decided whether to enter the CMC. Having had acknowledged his disappointment over losing the battle for Colombo, Salley expressed confidence the ongoing efforts to oust the UNP leader would succeed. Salley declined to comment on who should be Wickremesinghe’s successor.

The FTN was also told that SLPP had made significant progress thanks to government blunders beginning with the treasury bond scams in 2015 and 2016 (SF)

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