Parliament, others responsible for drafting LG election laws blamed for present crisis


Mahinda Deshapriya

By Rathindra Kuruwita

Parliament and those involved in the drafting of the Local Government Authorities Elections (Amendment) Act were responsible for the chaos at local government bodies over the question of accommodating the 25% female quota, election monitors claim.

Head of the Elections Commission Mahinda Deshapriya said on Wednesday there were quite a few local councils that would find it extremely difficult to form administration due to the women’s quota. The Elections Commission would meet political parties to discuss whether they should allow the establishment of local councils without having to fulfil the 25% female quota under the present circumstances, Deshapriya yesterday said.

Manjula Gajanayake, National Co-ordinator of Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) said that polls monitors had continuously warned the policymakers of the inconsistencies and complications the LG polls Act since 2012.

"We were not listened to. We told them that in an overhung situation the losing parties will have to ensure the 25% female participation through their PR seats and that they might strongly object to that. However, if we try to change the act again that will also lead to a big crisis," he said.

Rohana Hettiarachchi, Executive Director of People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) said that attempts to change the Act would take a long time and not yield the desired results.

"Either the policymakers have to agree to prune the quota for women or they will have to increase the number of members in the council which experience the problem. Both these alternatives are not salutary."

Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon, the Executive Director of Campaign for Free and Fair Elections said the fact that the concerns of the election officials and polls monitors had been ignored for five years showed that the political parties only thought of their interests.

Secretary to the Ministry of Provincial Councils and Local Government, Kamal Pathmasiri said that if the Elections Commission or polls monitors wanted the Act changed, they should consult the Attorney General.

"It’s the law. Parliament has passed it and when the Bill was drafted all stakeholders contributed their views. So, now if the Elections Commission wants to change it, it must go through the Attorney General. Then it can go to the legal draftsman to the Cabinet and then to the Parliament. There is no point in pointing fingers at us."

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