Govt. rethinks changes to LG polls laws

Government is to re-consider bringing amendments to the Local Government (LG) election laws before the next LG election to be held by April next year, due to divisions among members of the ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) on when to introduce the new laws.

Even though party leaders had decided to take up the two relevant Bills, namely the Local Authorities (Special Provisions) Bill and the Local Authorities Elections (Amendment) Bill, when Parliament meets again on January 4, the final decision on whether to go ahead, will only be made after President Mahinda Rajapaksa meets with members of the SLFP Central Committee and other UPFA constituent members in the last week of December.

“The President will talk to the SLFP and UPFA members separately, to get their views, and then decide if the new laws will be implemented before the next LG election”, Minister Dullas Allahaperuma said.
The President had called a meeting earlier this week, but as many senior members were out of the country on vacation, it was postponed to end December.

The Sunday Times learns that several UPFA LG members have made representations to the President, not to hold the next polls under the new system, and postpone the passage of the two Bills.

The two Bills, determined as constitutional by the Supreme Court, after being challenged by several smaller parties, seek to re-draw the boundaries of existing local bodies, as well as introduce a system of electing members, which will be a combination of the existing Proportional Representation (PR) system and the Westminster (first-past-the post) system.

Several smaller parties had petitioned Court on the grounds that they would be at a disadvantage, if the existing system of electing members is changed.

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