Home Minister calls new LG polls system a national crime

...alleges SLMC betrayed Galle MC to Rajapaksas

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Home Affairs Minister Vajira Abeywardena yesterday said that the newly introduced local government election system that had resulted in doubling of the number of councillors was nothing but a national crime.

Abeywardena said that the modification of the system should never have happened and was a serious mistake on their part.

The UNPer said so in response to a media query at Sirikotha briefing yesterday.

Abeywardena said that the UNP and the SLFP were primarily responsible for the situation.

Pointing out that the country was in turmoil over a month after Feb. 10 polls, Abeywardena said it had cast an evil spell. Abeywardena said that those who praised the new system should have their heads examined.

Recollecting the second JVP insurgency in the late 80s, Abeywardena said that the UNP had been mercilessly targeted for introducing the Provincial Councils in accordance with the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.

Abeywardena explained how the increase in the number of elected and appointed members could cause colossal rise in the expenditure. The Galle District MP said that had there been a situation similar to the 80s, local government members would have been targeted.

Abeywardena said that the costly system imposed on the country was a crime committed by the political parties in power.

Responding to questions regarding the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) securing control of the Galle Municipal Council, Abeywardena said that he was really disappointed the way the SLMC had betrayed the UNP at the election of the Mayor of Galle. Abeywardena alleged that after having reached consensus for the UNP to secure the top post with the support of the SLMC, the latter voted with the SLPP much to the disappointment of those who exercised their franchise for the UNP.

Abeywardena said the SLMC’s betrayal at the Galle MC reflected the situation at many local government bodies where the certain elements exploited the system to their advantage.

Abeywardenesaid that in accordance with the original plan that had been worked out by the UNP in consultation with other stakeholders including the SLMC, they had the backing of 18 out of 35-member GMC. The 18 comprised 14 elected on the UNP ticket (SLMC included), three UPFA and one from Maithri Gunaratne’s United National Freedom Front. The agreement was for Jilith Nishantha (UNP) and Deshapriya Liyanage (UPFA) to be appointed the Mayor and Deputy Mayor for a period of two years. However, Faiz Mohammed Latif had caused a crisis by demanding that he wanted the mayoral post though the UNP and the UPFA assured them he would be appointed the mayor at the commencement of the third year.

In spite of that, they had been able to resolve differences and reached consensus to go ahead with the original plan on March 22, Abeywardena said. But, the SLMC group voted with the SLPP at a secret vote to enable the SLPP mayoral candidate Priyantha Sahabandu to take the top post, Abeywardena alleged.

Abeywardena insisted that the party should take immediate disciplinary measures to remove those who had betrayed their victory to the Rajapaksas and appoint members from the List. Those who backed the SLPP’s call for secret vote did so to defeat the UNP, Abeywardena said.

Abeywardena appreciated the JVP for not backing the despicable move.

Referring to a statement attributed to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa that those who worked contrary to directives of the party (SLPP) should be punished, Abeywardena said that the same should be applied to those councillors who betrayed the UNP.

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