Parliament passes Local Government Elections Bill

Saturday, 26 August 2017 00:50 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • 120 votes in favour, 44 Joint Opposition MPs abstain
  • JO contends Bill makes it difficult for State employees to join politics


By Ashwin Hemmathagama – Our Lobby Correspondent

Lawmakers passed the Local Government Elections (Amendment) Bill with amendments in Parliament yesterday with 120 members, including those from the JVP and the TNA voting in favour. None of the members voted against the Bill, though 44 MPs of the UPFA Joint Opposition group abstained from voting. 

During the second reading, UPFA JO Group Leader in Parliament MP Dinesh Gunawardena criticised the Government regarding the Bill’s content, which he alleged takes away the right of state employees to take to politics. 

“There are issues in the Bill presented. These issues will harm the state employees who prefer to choose to contest in elections. So, we are unable to vote in favour. However, the Joint Opposition will work with the Elections Commission to uphold independent elections. Regardless of party politics, your Bill will prevent the rights of state employees in coming forward to contest in elections,” said MP Gunawardena to the Minister of Provincial Councils and Local Government the amendments he has proposed.

Rejecting the JO’s proposed amendments, the Minister of Provincial Councils and Local Government Faiszer Musthapha said that state officers include Samurdhi Officers, Grama Niladharis and Development Officers.

Minister Musthapha having listened to all Amendment proposals from lawmakers, Parliament was unable to reach a consensus on the proposals of the JO. Speaker Karu Jayasuriya permitting the request of the JO, allowed the House to decide the acceptance of the amendments in question through division, where 120 members of the Government side voted against while 44 were in favour of adopting. Ministry of Labour, Trade Union Relations and Sabaragamu Development W. D. J. Senewiratne abstained from voting.

Earlier in the day, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya had to suspend sittings in response to a request by Minister of Higher Education and Highways and Leader of the House of Parliament Lakshman Kiriella.

Parliament was adjourned at 12.10pm until 1pm on Wednesday 6 September 2017.