ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has not decided to postpone local government elections before March 2023, but “some necessary amendments or the adjustments” before the polls, Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said.
Opposition and anti-government activists in Sri Lanka are pushing President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government for both local government and parliament polls in the first quarter of 2023.
The local government elections were postponed by one year in February last year and they should be held by February 20, 2023. Wickremesinghe has the discretion to dissolve the parliament anytime after February next year as per powers vested in him.
However, the government has already appointed another delimitation commission to look into some concerns raised in the last commission’s decisions.
“At the moment, we have not made a decision or any request to postpone the (local government) elections,” Justice Minister Rajapakshe told reporters at the weekly cabinet briefing on Tuesday (22).
“What we are trying to do is to make these necessary amendments or adjustments before the due date and then go for the election.”
He said the adjustments are expected to be completed before February 2023 to hold the polls as scheduled.
However, sources close to Wickremesinghe have told EconomyNext, that the president is considering the presidential poll first after November 16, next year as both local and parliamentary polls could reverse the reforms he has planned in the budget as those policies could increase divisions among the political parties as he seeks a $2.9 billion IMF loan to consolidate the economy. [Story]
Minister Rajapakshe said the number of local government members needs to reduce to at least 5,100 from the current 8,700 because it has more than doubled from the time it was introduced in 1987. This reduction is expected to be done before the next local government polls, he said.
“Now there are several suggestions I have proposed to the commission to decide this issue. My proposal is since we do not have much time to look at demarcating votes and etc, we can go by the voting basis,” he said.
“The Prime Minister has appointed a delimitation commission. All those matters can be considered by the proposed elect committee which will be represented by all the political parties in the parliament. I think they have to pick the best way possible.” (Colombo/Nov22/2022)