LG elections bill passed | Daily News

LG elections bill passed

With a majority of 120 votes :

44 members abstained, No member voted against the bill :

UNP and SLFP Govt. members, JVP and TNA voted in favour:

Joint Opposition abstained:

The Local Authorities Elections (Amendment) Bill was passed in Parliament yesterday with a majority of 120 votes providing for holding the long overdue Local Government elections under a new electoral system.

Following a division called by the Joint Opposition, 120 members voted for the Bill, while 44 members abstained. No member voted against the Bill. The UNP and SLFP members in the Government, JVP and TNA voted in favour. The Joint Opposition led by MEP Leader Dinesh Gunawardena abstained from voting.

Local Government and Provincial Councils Minister Faiszer Musthapha moved further amendments to the Bill at the Committee Stage of the Bill. Several last minute amendments proposed by the JVP and Joint Opposition were also accommodated.

The Bill was to give effect to necessary legal amendments to hold the LG elections under a mixed system, a hybrid of the First-Past-the-Post (FPP) and the Proportional Representation (PR).

Sixty percent has been allocated to the FPP representation while 40 percent has been allocated to PR representation.

After experimenting the new electoral system at the LG elections, it would thereafter be extended to the Provincial Council elections and national level elections.

The legislation assures 25 percent quota to female representatives. It abolishes the preferential voting system. Both moves received admiration of law makers as progressive proposals that would usher in a new political culture.

The Bill amended the Local Authorities Elections Ordinance (Chapter 262) and provided identification for each electoral ward by giving a name and a number among other requirements. It was done following the lengthy process of delimitation.

The Government facilitated a full day debate on the Bill on Thursday and took up the Third Reading yesterday. The Amendments at the third reading took about one and half hours.

The members voted using the newly introduced electronic voting system.

The Parliamentary staff led by Secretary General Dhammika Dasanayake helped the members to sort out the mini technical issues cropped up when the vote was in progress.

 WDJ abstains from voting against amendment

Labour, Trade Union Relations and Sabaragamuwa Development Minister W. D. J. Seneviratne abstained from voting against an amendment sponsored by the Joint Opposition seeking to permit public servants to contest elections while all government ministers and MPs voted against.

According to the provisions of the Local Government Elections (Amendment) Bill the public servants are required to resign one year prior to contesting the elections for the Local Government bodies.

The Joint Opposition proposed an amendment to remove that clause from the draft bill.

The government rejected the amendment and the House was moved to a vote. In that vote, Minister Seneviratne abstained. But he voted in favour during the vote on the Bill. The minister told media that depriving the field officers of their democratic right to contest elections amounted to violating their fundamental rights, and his conscience did not permit him to vote with government members.

“As the party had not taken any prior standpoint over the issue, it would not cause any problem from the party to him,” Minister Seneviratne said.




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