Ex-COPE Head: Electoral reforms ploy to postpone LG polls

By Rathindra Kuruwita

If President Ranil Wickremesinghe and the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) are confident that they have public support, they should hold local government elections as soon as possible, independent MP Prof. Charitha Herath says.

“President Ranil Wickremesinghe has decided to reform the electoral system. He wants to change the local council election laws. This is a long process. First of all, he has to get a committee in Parliament to work on this, place it before MPs and then present it to the people. He can’t just decide to change local government election laws. It takes a lot of time to draft these laws. The President seems to think that he can change laws according to his whims and fancies,” he said.

Prof. Herath said the President now wanted to reduce the number of local councillors to 4000 from 8000, and have a leadership council instead of a chairman. However, it was when he was the Prime Minister that the number of councillors increased, Herath said.

“At the end of September, the Election Commission was empowered to commence the local council election process. The Commission is taking the preliminary steps to hold the elections. Suddenly, the President decides that holding elections now is a bad idea and comes with a plan to postpone it. If we reduce the number of councillors, we need to do delimitation again. This is a blatant attempt to postpone elections,” Herath said.

When Wickremesinghe was PM, he took steps to delay Provincial Council elections and that had come and boomeranged during the UNHRC session, he said.

“Look at India’s submission to the UNHRC. They are talking about dismantling the Provincial Council system by postponing elections. Some SLPP MPs claim that the people are with them. Wickremesinghe also says people support his policies. Then, there is no reason to postpone elections. Hold local Council Elections and Provincial Council elections immediately,” Prof. Herath said.

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