By Ashwin Hemmathagama
The Government informed Parliament on Saturday that Minister of Provincial Councils and Local Government Faiszer Musthapha had gone abroad without keeping the Prime Minister or the Leader of the House informed but would be present in Parliament today to respond to the brewing issues of the petition filed against holding local government elections.
Minister of Higher Education and Highways and Leader of the House of Parliament Lakshman Kiriella, responding to Chief Opposition Whip JVP MP Anura Dissanayake who found it suspicious to have court proceedings on a Gazette after nine months which was issued by Minister Musthapha on 17 February after completing the parliamentary process of the new act, said: “We are not aware of the whereabouts. Technically the Minister should keep the Prime Minister informed. But he has not complied. The Prime Minister has instructed all MPs and Ministers not to leave the country during the Budget debate period. He should have informed the Government of his visit.”
According to MP Dissanayake, Minister Musthapha has failed in his responsibilities by not being able to be in the country or at least reply Parliament during a crisis pertaining to local government elections, which will get further delayed.
“People have serious doubts over the continuous delay of holding elections. More than two years have passed without elections. The reasons created by the Government for postponing elections are not legitimate and acceptable. The Court of Appeal has issued a restraining order preventing elections and against the Gazette issued by Local Government Minister Faiszer Musthapha.
The Court has mentioned that the Minister had acted in a manner exceeding his mandate. However, the Minister was not present in Court on the day the Court made that observation. The Minister so far has not been able to provide people with an acceptable explanation with regard to the unprecedented delay in holding local government polls. Since then the minister has not come to this Parliament. There are media reports that the Minister has gone abroad,” he said.