By Shamindra Ferdinando
Proposed constitutional amendment to put off scheduled Provincial Council polls in the Eastern, Sabaragamuwa and North Central provinces required a two-thirds approval in Parliament, provincial councils and local government minister Faiszer Musthapha said yesterday.
Minister Musthapha was responding to a query by The Island at an SLFP media briefing at the party office on T. B. Jayah Mawatha.
Minister Musthapha said the government would soon seek parliamentary approval for the amendment.
The UNP and the UPFA secured 106 and 95 seats, respectively at the last general election. However, out of the 95 seats obtained by the UPFA, about 52 members joined the Joint Opposition (JO).
Additional Commissioner, National Election Commission M.M. Mohamed yesterday told The Island that the Sabaragamuwa, Eastern and North Central would complete five year terms on Sept. 26, Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, respectively. Mohamed said in accordance with the Provincial Council Election Act No 02 of 1988, nominations would be called on Oct. 2 or 3. Responding to a query, Mohamed said that Uva Provincial Council would be the last to complete its term on Oct. 8, 2019.
Minister Musthapha said the objective was meant to hold provincial council polls simultaneously.
He strongly defended government move in response to a spate of questions regarding bid to postpone provincial council polls in the wake of local government polls being delayed by over two years.
Asked whether the proposed amendment would specify the date the government intended to hold provincial council polls, Musthapha said the members of parliament could decide on that.
When The Island pointed out that an attempt was being made to put off provincial council polls against the backdrop of inordinate delay in conducting local government polls, the Minister said it would be the responsibility of the parliament to approve amendments to the Local Government Electoral (Amendment) Act No 12 of 2012. Claiming that he had done his job and couldn’t be held responsible in anyway, he said that party leaders should decide when to take it up.
The draft Amendment had already been handed over to Speaker Karu Jayasuriya and Leader of the House Lakshman Kiriella, he said.
Asked who represented the SLFP at the party leaders’ meeting, Minister Musthapha said Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva.