LG Elections Act JO to protest secret amendments

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By 2017-08-24

By Methmalie Dissanayake

UPFA MP Dullas Alahapperuma alleged that the Government is attempting to introduce some amendments to the Local Government Elections (Amendment) Act through the backdoor.

Several Parliamentarians of the Joint Opposition (JO) yesterday (23) met the Elections Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya regarding the proposed Local Government Elections (Amendment) Act.

Addressing the media, after the meeting Deshapriya yesterday, Alahapperuma said, "According to the Parliament schedule, the Amendments to the Local Government Act will be debated tomorrow (24).

The Elections Commission had earlier approved 58 amendments and we support them entirely. But, we heard on 21 August that the Government, without informing anyone, has secretly entered some amendments to the Act."

"After getting to know the secret plan of the Government, the JO handed over a letter to the Speaker of Parliament asking him not to take the Act for a vote on 24 August. We had even met the Speaker on 22 August.

During that meeting the Speaker informed us that there will be no vote on the Local Government Act on the 24th so the Opposition has enough time to study the Act," he added.

However, one hour after the meeting the Speaker, the Leader of the House informed the Parliament that there will be a vote on the amendments on 24th, Alahapperuma said. After that the Speaker said the Parliament will be provided with the amendments before 12 noon on the 23rd. But, the Government failed to provide them to either the Parliament or to the Elections Commission, he added.

"This Government has dissolved Local Governments. Holding elections at the right time is essential to protect democracy in the country," Alahapperuma said.

Meanwhile, addressing the media, the UPFA MP Vasudeva Nanayakkara said that the JO will protest against the Government's attempts to achieve their motives through the amendments introduced secretly to the Local Government Elections (Amendment) Act, in the Parliament today.

Speaking to Ceylon Today, the EC Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya said that the EC informed the JO parliamentarians that it had also heard about the Government's new Amendments to the Act. Even though the EC has sent its observations, it is yet to receive a comment on the matter from the Government's side, Deshapriya added.

"We want the proposed Local Government Elections (Amendment) Act to be passed and to hold the LG polls as soon as possible," Deshapriya asserted.

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