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Sri Lankan govt. agrees to amend the Local Govt. Bills?

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Santhush Fernando in Colombo

It is likely that the ruling United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) will alter the two highly-debated Local Authorities electoral reforms bills, as a part of the compromise it reached with the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), which joined the government ranks recently.

UPFA had reportedly agreed to include SLMC proposals during the committee stage of the two bills- namely, Local Authorities (Special Provisions) Bill and the Local Authorities Elections (Amendment) Bill

Prior to joining the UPFA, in an interview with the Asian Tribune , SLMC National Organizer, Shafeek Rajabdeen confirmed that the government had agreed to make two changes to the original bills. SLMC declared it would give unconditional support for the electoral reforms.

However with the government delaying in its response SLMC said it would adopt a ‘wait and see’ approach.

According to Rajabdeen, one proposal related to the highly contentious situation whereby the Council was immediately dissolved when its budget was defeated.

“SLMC proposed that a bye-election should be held in such a situation. This will prevent the central government of the day, running the Council by appointing a commissioner, who is not elected by the people. We believe that in such a situation, the ruling party of that Council has to go before the voters,” he added.

SLMC had also requested that the delimitation process be handled by apolitical persons and not by the minister of the area, as proposed.

“The process should only involve public servants such as the District Secretary, Divisional Secretaries (DS), and Grama Sevaka who are non political public servants. If I am a minister would I not try to conduct the delimitation in a manner which would benefit me?” he queried.

He added that the Bill in general was very positive.

“With the re-introduction of Ward System (First-Past-The Post System) there won’t be much of infighting. Ward system also limits you to your electorate which will have a great impact on costs as well,”

Tug-of-war

Meanwhile Asian Tribune reported on November 19, that during a Party Leaders’ Meeting, the opposition had vehemently opposed the UPFA’s move to take up Bills for debate before year-end.

It is speculated that the local government elections earlier scheduled for 2011 April are likely to be put off until May, due to delays in the on-going delimitation process.

The locally-adapted ‘German Model’ or the ‘Mixed member proportional representation system’, which will be introduced under these Bills, has been hailed as ‘one of the most plausible electoral systems’ in the world. The UPFA is also hopeful of expanding the model to Provincial Council and General Elections based on the success of this.  – Asian Tribune –

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Written by lankamuslim.com

November 26, 2010 at 10:33 am

Posted in Articles

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