Delimitation Report rejected by Parliament, PC polls according to old system

Saturday, 25 August 2018 00:10 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • UNP, SLFP (Sirisena faction), Joint Opposition and TNA vote against Delimitation Report
  • JVP absent 

By Skandha Gunasekara

The vote on the Report of the Delimitation Committee for the delimitation of provincial council electorates was defeated in Parliament yesterday by 139 votes.

There were no votes in favour of the Report, all 139 Parliamentarians present in the House when the Report was taken up for vote, voted against.

UNP, SLFP-Government group, Joint Opposition and TNA MPs voted against the Report, rejecting the Report’s proposal to conduct provincial council elections under the new mixed electoral system.

The JVP was absent during the vote.

The debate on the Report, which began around 11.30 a.m., concluded by 6 p.m., at which point the House was moved for a vote.  The Delimitation Report was presented to Parliament by Minister of Local Government and Provincial Councils Faiszer Mustapha on 6 March. Leader of the House and Minister of Public Enterprise and Kandyan Development Lakshman Kiriella, prior to the vote, said that it was the UNP’s view that the upcoming provincial council polls should be held under the old election system.

“We, too, want to hold the elections as soon as possible. When we consider the opinions of the MPs of all parties, it is clear that everybody wants to hold the elections as soon as possible.” 

“It is also true that preparing new laws to hold the provincial council elections under a new system would take additional time. There is no agreement between the political parties on the delimitation process. Even the UNP MPs have raised questions on the delimitation methods. Our party had discussed with the Joint Opposition on the possibility of introducing amendments. But, there is no common consensus on the Delimitation Report. If we wait for a new method which is agreeable to all, then several more years would lapse before elections are held. The SLMC has complained that their number of representatives and councillors would be reduced under the proposed new electoral system. There are many such complex issues. It is my belief and my party’s belief that we should hold the provincial councils under the existing representative system,” he said.

Meanwhile, Minister Faiszer Mustapha said that smaller political parties who latch on to larger parties to gain more votes are opposed to the mixed electoral method.

“Today, some newspapers have reported that ‘Faiszer’s report’ would be defeated in Parliament. This is not a report by me. The new system has been envisaged to eliminate the preferential vote system.” Minister Mustapha said.

Speaker to appoint 5-member expert committee on PC elections

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya is to appoint a five-member expert committee in the next few days to make recommendations on holding the provincial council elections as soon as possible.

According to the Speaker’s office, the decision to appoint such a committee had been taken during a Parliament business committee meeting held yesterday.

The five-member expert committee is to be headed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe while the other four members would be non-political individuals with expertise on the subject.

The Speaker had opined during the meeting that there should be no delay in holding the provincial council polls.

The five-member committee is tasked with submitting its report by mid-October if the elections are to be held in January 2019. (SG)