The Election Commission (EC) stated that the nominations called for the Local Government (LG) elections, 2023, are still valid, and that they could be cancelled only through an Act in the Parliament.
On 20 September, the Ministerial Consultative Committee on Public Administration, Home Affairs, Provincial Council, and LG had unanimously consented to cancel the nominations called for the LG elections.
Speaking to The Daily Morning yesterday (27), EC Chairman, R.M.A.L. Rathnayake said that the Ministerial Consultative Committee’s decision to cancel the nominations had no effect.
“It is a Ministerial Consultative Committee which has made this decision. It does not do anything. If the nominations are to be cancelled, it can be done only through a Parliamentary Act.” In response to a query as to whether the nominations are still valid, he said: “Yes, they are still in effect. Nothing has changed.”
The LG elections were initially scheduled to be held on 9 March 2023, but the Finance, Economic Stabilisation and National Policies Ministry and the general Treasury had not released the required funds to the EC, which then rescheduled it (the Elections) to 25 April, and the postal voting to 28, 29, 30, and 31 March and 3 April 2023. Since the funds were not released by that time too, the EC once again postponed the Elections, indefinitely.
With the continuous postponement of the LG elections, those who had submitted nominations had been lamenting that they had to face various difficulties due to the election laws and other regulations, which, in turn, led to requests for the suspension of the nominations or the related laws.
It was against that backdrop that the said Ministerial Consultative Committee had consented to cancel the nominations. The move had since seen criticism from several parties, particularly the Parliamentary Opposition and civil organisations. They have said that the cancellation of nominations would incur a loss of about Rs. 1 billion, and that it would take away the people’s right to vote.
Meanwhile PAFFREL has voiced concerns over cancellation of LG election nominations
The People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) organisation has raised a red flag over the recent decision to cancel nominations for the forthcoming Local Government (LG) elections.
This move, according to PAFFREL, is anticipated to result in a staggering loss exceeding Rs. 1 billion to the State coffers.
PAFFREL Executive Director Rohana Hettiarachchi expressed his apprehension, emphasising that such a decision in the midst of an ongoing economic crisis was ill-advised and not in the best interest of the country.
He further pointed out that this turn of events could have far-reaching implications on the country’s fiscal stability.
Hettiarachchi also shed light on the fact that the Election Commission had already allocated substantial funds for the 2023 LG polls. This included budgetary provisions for crucial aspects such as ballot paper printing and logistical arrangements. The cancellation of nominations is expected to throw these pre-allocated resources into uncertainty.
The decision to cancel nominations was reached on 20 September during a meeting of the Ministerial Consultative Committee on Public Administration, Home Affairs, Provincial Council, and Local Government. The committee’s unanimous agreement stemmed from the recognition of the challenges faced by candidates due to the earlier election postponement.
Critics argue that the substantial financial outlay already made towards the election process could have been utilised more effectively, especially given the current economic climate.
The ramifications of this decision continue to be a subject of intense discussion within political and civic circles