Faizer Mustapha says most appeals were incorporated leading to passage of Local Government Elections Bill in Parliament
Government Field officers disqualified from running elections in the same area
25% quota allocated for women, 30% youth quota not compulsory
Calls on political parties to refrain from nominating their relatives using the women’s quota
By Chathuri Dissanayake
Calling on the Election Commission to set the date for Local Government elections, a contended Faizer Mustapha yesterday said that he has done his duty by bringing in the Local Government Elections Bill, assuring that the new system will bring in a new political era.
“All of you accused me of attempting to postpone the elections, but now I have managed to bring in the Local Government Elections Bill which will implement the new electoral system. The pitch is ready to play on now; it’s the Elections Commissioner’s responsibility now to name the date for the election,” the Provincial Councils and Local Government Minister said.
The Minister said elections are likely to be held before the end of the year under a mixed system with 60 per cent members elected under the Westminster (First-past-the Post) system and 40 per cent under the Proportional Representation (PR) system.
The Bill has been able to incorporate most of the features in the 900 appeals the ministry received on the issue, he said. However, Mustapha explained that some changes were not possible due to legal limitations.
“The powers vested in me to carry out changes are limited; so there were certain changes I could not bring in, although we agreed in principle. I was not able to create new electorates, but change the boundaries only,” he explained.
An advisory committee has been appointed to look into issues in creating electorates, as the issue was raised by two Ministers. However, the Minister assured that this will not cause any delay in holding the elections.
Under the new regulations field, officers will not be able to run for office in a Local Government in the same area. The clause, which has already come under fire, was a recommendation by the Elections Commission as the officers may be able to exert undue influence on voters, the Minister explained.
“This was brought on the same premise that Grama Niliadaris are not allowed to run for office in the same area. This was actually a recommendation by the Commission. Even we have reservations as this is disadvantageous to us politically. But we have to listen to the recommendations of the Commission and this has been included in that spirit,” Mustapha explained.
The Minister also appealed to all political parties to not use the 25% quota allocated for women to field relatives as their candidates.
“I ask from all of the parties to not put their wife or daughter into the nominations list. While they may be capable, please give others who are capable and intelligent the opportunity,” he said.
“The intelligent, educated members of the local community and community leaders should be given a chance to run. That will bring in a new era.”
The Minister also said that he hoped political parties would consider including youths in the nominations list although the quota on 30% youth participation was not made compulsory in the Bill.
Provincial and Parliamentary Elections to follow same system
Provincial Councils and Local Government Minister Faizer Mustapha yesterday said that the Government will pass the necessary regulations to hold both Provincial Council and Parliamentary elections under the new system which will be first implemented in the Local Government Elections.
“We don’t want to have two different systems. The country needs such a system to wipe out corrupt political system at present. The new system will be implemented in the Provincial Council and Parliamentary elections as well,” he said
However, he said, the final decision to adopt the system will lie with Parliament.
According to the Local Government Elections Bill passed yesterday, the local government elections will be held under a mixed system with 60 per cent members elected under the Westminster (First-past-the Post) system and 40 per cent under the Proportional Representation (PR) system.
The same system is to be applied to Provincial and Parliamentary elections as well.
“This system will created the much needed direct connection between the representative and the electors,” he said.
Polls within 100 days
Chairman of Elections Commission said yesterday that Local Government polls can be held between 75 to 100 days after the signing of the Act.