The long delayed elections to Sri Lanka’s nine provincial elections could be held very soon if a private members bill submitted by Jaffna district parliamentarian MA Sumanthiran is passed by the House next week.
Sumanthiran is due to table the bill in Parliament on April 25th 2023 for its first reading
After the first reading is done the house must agree to proceed to the next level, which is referring it to the Govt. Since it is a private member’s bill, it remains to be seen as to whether the Govt will accept or call for a vote to reject it at that stage.
Since there is much media speculation that President Wickremesinghe is thinking of conducting Provincial Council polls on a staggered basis soon, the prospects for Sumanthiran MP’s bill going through successfully seem bright say political observers.
Lanka’s nine provincial councils completed their terms of office at different times in 2017, 2018 and 2019. The last PC to be dissolved was the Uva PC in October 2019. Fresh elections to the Provincial Councils was delayed due to an amendment in 2017 to the Provincial Council Elections Act whereby a new electoral system was to be introduced for PCs
This however was not done and consequently elections to PCs have been put on hold
Sumanthiran’s proposed bill seeks to rectify this position by amending the amendment thereby restoring the status quo which prevailed before 2017. If the new amendment is adopted by Parliament , it would be possible to hold PC elections under the old system. Thus it would be possible to have early elections to the PCs..
TNA Parliamentarian MA Sumanthiran responded to a query regarding the proposed Pvt Members bill. This is what the MP stated –
“I have presented a private member’s bill again for the amendment of the PC Elections Act. This merely seeks to reverse the last amendment made in 2017, which is the one that caused the stalemate. My proposed amendment merely says that amendment Act No 17 of 2017 is being repealed “as though it was never enacted”.
The Dinesh Gunawardena Select Committe on Electoral Reforms, of which I was a member, also in its Report says that with a simple amendment PC elections can be held under the previous system (PR). Thus, if my Bill is adopted PC polls can immediately be held.
This time when I submitted it to the Secretary General, I stated in my letter that since this was previously gazettes after vetting by the Attorney General, this time it need not be sent to the AG. SG agreed with me and that is why it has been gazettes quickly this time. I am due to table it on the 25th (1st Reading).”