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POSTED AT 09:48 AM 06-04-2019

NEC Chairman writes to Speaker on holding PC elections

National Election Commission (NEC) Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya has informed Speaker Karu Jayasuriya in writing that the Commission would be compelled to take legal action if the necessary amendments to hold the Provincial Councils Elections were not presented to Parliament by yesterday.

UPFA MP Dullas Alahapperuma told the House that the Speaker presented the NEC Chairman’s letter at the last Party Leaders’ Meeting held in Parliament.

In the letter, Deshapriya has stated that the amendments to hold the Provincial Council Elections must be presented in Parliament at least by April 5 (yesterday) if the elections are to be conducted prior to August.

“We do not see any amendment related to the PC elections before the House today. Parliament is meeting again on May 7-8 and the agenda for those days have already been finalized. The next sitting will be on May 21-22 and even if the amendments were presented during that sitting, it would be impossible to hold the PC elections prior to the Presidential Elections. A Presidential Election must be declared by October 5 at the latest according to the law. It is now crystal clear that the PC elections will not be held this year,” MP Alahapperuma remarked.

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, briefing the House on the current position with regard to reaching a consensus over PC election system, said two Party Leaders namely Ministers Mano Ganesan and Rauff Hakeem wanted to meet President Maithripala Sirisena to clarify certain issues with regard to it.

“We gave them time for that. Again last week, the Party Leaders were of the opinion that the President must convene a meeting to discuss this problem and I informed this to the President verbally as well as in writing,” the Speaker said.

Leader of the House and Minister Lakshman Kiriella pointed out that the UNP has always held that the PC elections must be held under the old electoral system until the problems with the new system are sorted out. “It was the UPFA which demanded to hold it under the new system. Had the UPFA agreed to the old system, the PC elections could have been held six months ago. The new system is incomplete. We need to bring in an amendment even if we are to hold the PC elections under the old system. Let’s inquire about the position of the President and take a collective decision,” he noted.

UPFA MP Mahinda Amaraweera said their initial attempt was to adopt an electoral system sans preferential votes as many in the country preferred. “When that failed, we too agreed to hold the PC elections under the old system. We are ready to support the Government to pass the legislation immediately. We can even hold a special sitting for that purpose,” he said.

UNP MP Chaminda Wijesiri said the postponement of PC elections was connected to the SLPP and the SLFP discussions on the next Presidential candidate.

JVP MP Bimal Rathnayake said his party prefers the new electoral system sans preferential votes.

Disna Mudalige, Camelia Nathaniel and Menaka Indrakumar

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