PM Challenges JO to contest under new party

There wouldn’t be a single Joint Opposition member in Parliament after January next year provided they contested the Local Government election from a party other than Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) of the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA), Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said in Parliament yesterday.

Stating that the Local Government election will be held in January next year, while the party leaders could decide on the provincial council polls later,the Premier also requested the Joint Opposition members to assist the UPFA and thereafter the Government could function smoothly without disturbance.

The Premier also questioned as to how Joint Opposition members could support some other party at an election. “Thereafter their party membership would be cancelled,” Premier Wickremesinghe said. “So I ask the the Joint Opposition members to support the UPFA and we can function after January peacefully.”

He made these observations yesterday making a Ministerial Statement in Parliament.

He said Local Government elections could only be held January next year because of GCE Ordinary Level Examination which would be held in mid December this year and because of the budget. He said the Ministry of Education has requested that the polls should not be held in December this year.

Premier said further that the Parliament agreed to hold the Local Government election under a mixed electoral system of First-Past-the-Post (FPP) representation and Proportional Representation(PR).

He said that to introduce this system meeting justice to all, the government had to take long. But those who criticized preferential vote system earlier attempted to criticize the government’s endeavor to introduce a just system to take petty political mileage.

“The government led by President Maithripala Sirisena and United National Party(UNP) is not afraid of elections,” Premier said. “But if the opposition is afraid of the elections, just let us know.”

Further the Prime Minister said the local government polls were delayed as there were many issues to be resolved. “ The previous government had created wards where there were no proper population. These were done in order to get political mileage” Premier said. “For example as the previous government could not win the ward where Sirikotha is located they attempted to make it a multi-ward although over 95 percent of the population in the ward were Sinhalese.”

Further he said this government will be able to bring in a new mixed electoral system for the local bodies based on a ward system. “ We have also been able to secure the small parties, minority groups and ensure a fair representation for women in all local bodies” Premier said.

The Premier also assured that the mixed electoral system will be extended to provincial councils and parliamentary elections as well. He added that all changes would be done with the consent of all parties.

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa then queried as to when the provincial council could be held. “We also would like to know as to when the government intends to hold the provincial council election whose terms end next month,” Parliamentarian Rajapaksa queried. “The Election Commission has said it would be possible to hold elections to these councils in December this year”.

Prime Minister who responded said the issues of GCE Ordinary Level exam and the budget will pop up for this election as well. “ We will have to talk with the polls chief and political parties on this issue” the Prime Minister said.

He said further that these facts have been submitted to the Election Commission and a date would be decided for the election in January. However as the Joint Opposition members attempted to shout as the Premier commenced his statement, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya observed that members should allow any member on his feet to express his views.

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