- .Says the bill is a death blow to the sovereignty of the people and democracy
- Claims bill does not specify for how long a Minister will be able to reactivate LG bodies
- Stresses governments could misuse the law to not hold elections when unfavourable
Independent election monitors, People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) yesterday called for the recently gazetted Private Member’s Bill presented by Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) MP Jayantha Ketagoda to be defeated.
According to PAFFREL, the failure to hold elections as scheduled while attempting to reactivate Local Government bodies whose tenure has elapsed by amending existing legislation as proposed is a significant blow to both the sovereignty of the people and the principles of democracy. “This is yet another milestone in the attempts to obstruct elections and embark on a dictatorial journey,” the organisation said.
“The private member’s proposal states that if the poll cannot be held due to a crisis at a time when the local government bodies have been dissolved and the poll called, the existing law should be amended so that the minister can recall the dissolved local government bodies for a certain period of time. According to this section, the discretionary period is not specified and accordingly, the members of the dissolved local government bodies can be recalled even for a lengthy period at the discretion of the minister.” PAFFREL noted.
PAFFREL also noted that the bill has failed to elaborate on the term ‘crisis’ allowing the Government or the relevant Minister to misuse it. The organisation said they refuse to accept this as a mere Private Member Bill given the Government’s reluctance to hold polls.
PAFFREL said with this amendment in place, it raises uncertainty about whether any government will prioritise recalling elected representatives instead of conducting elections whenever they perceive it to be unfavourable
“If any representative of the people supports this proposal to become a law, it will be a great blow to the people’s sovereignty,” PAFFREL said while urging all MPs and the people to come together to defeat the effort. PAFFREL also said it will take all legal steps possible to prevent the bill from being enacted as law.
The government is making a shameful attempt to bring in a Constitutional Amendment to extend the term of local authorities for an indefinite period and to reinstate the already dissolved local authorities, the National People’s Power (NPP) said.
NPP General Secretary Tilvin Silva told a news conference that a gazette notification was issued on June 23 as a private member’s bill to bring in the amendment.
“According to the Local Government Elections Ordinance, the subject minister is empowered to extend the term of a local authority for a period of one year on special circumstances. However, this particular amendment has been proposed to authorize the minister to extend the term for an indefinite period. It also proposes to reinstate a dissolved local authority,” he said.
He said this move was against the Constitution and added that previous court rulings clearly show that people’s mandate can be shortened if required but cannot be extended for any reason.
He said President Ranil Wickremesinghe has postponed the LG polls as its outcome would affect his next Presidential dream and on the other hand he is trying to reinstate local authorities so as to get the support of the SLPP.
Silva said the NPP would take every step to defeat such a move.