LG polls delay Opposition rips Govt

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By 2017-11-23

With the Court of Appeal issuing a Stay Order on the delimitation Gazette notification, political parties in the Opposition unanimously protested against the Government, alleging that the Government is trying to suppress the democratic rights of the people.

Ahead of former Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa joining the debate on the Heads of Expenditure of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Environment and Mahaweli Development, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa drew the attention of the House to the Stay Order by the Court of Appeal. "People are asking for this election and we express our objection to further delaying it. It is the duty of the Government to hold the Local Government polls as soon as possible. The elections have already been delayed for two and a half years. The delay has given rise to controversy and the Government should take responsibility for it," he said.

Leader of the House, Minister Lakshman Kiriella replied that the United National Party too objects to the postponing of the LG elections. "We also want the elections as early as possible. We have already called applications for nominations, prepared the shortlist and selected eligible candidates. Now they have started village level canvassing," he said.

Chief Opposition Whip and Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, alleging that the petitioners are close associates of State Ministers Dilan Perera, Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena and Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara, said that it was a clear attempt by the SLFP to delay the said polls.

He charged that the Court case had been used for political motivations. "There is a vacancy at the Supreme Court and another vacancy will be created shortly. Those in the Court of Appeal may get a chance to fill those vacancies and this case was used as a criterion for that. We are watchful of the names the President sends to the Constitutional Council to fill those vacancies," he alleged.

Condemning the attempt to strangle democracy, the MP said that they would do all in their capacity to win the elections, adding that they are ready to join with any rival group for this purpose.

With President Maithripala Sirisena seated in the chamber listening to the debate, MP Dissanayake told him to walk his talk on strengthening democracy. "President Sirisena's camp in the SLFP is hesitant to face the elections in fear of defeat. Understand that you cannot compare the LG poll results with those of the Presidential poll. Nobody can survive long by playing political games. Those are temporary. If political games can retain power, then former President Rajapaksa would still be in power. World history speaks of the fate of leaders who ran away from elections," the MP told the House.

MP Dissanayake urged the Court of Appeal to take up the case before 4 December. He went on to allege that the Minister of Provincial Councils and Local Government Faiszer Musthapha issued the faulty Gazette deliberately and demanded the resignation of the Minister; over this error. "Now where is the Minister when this important case is being taken up? He has gone abroad," he added.

Tamil National Alliance MP M.A. Sumanthiran said that they also want the elections to be held as early as possible and that they oppose the abuse of the judicial process in this regard.

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