The Joint Opposition (JO) has received an assurance from the National Election Commission (NEC) that the independent body would give serious consideration to representations made by the grouping on Monday (Aug.6)
A top level JO delegation led by its parliamentary group leader Dinesh Gunawardena warned that the continuing inaction on the part of the NEC in respect of Provincial Council polls could lead to the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe coalition adopting a similar strategy to delay parliamentary polls in 2020.
Presidential election is scheduled for Nov/Dec 2019.
The government established the NEC in Nov 2016. The NEC comprises Mahinda Deshapriya (Chairman), Nalin Abeysekara and Dr Ratnajeevan Hoole.
A senior JO spokesperson told The Island that having thanked the NEC for the opportunity received to discuss the matter, the Commissioners were told that they could act swiftly and decisively in accordance with existing laws to hold Provincial Council polls.
The JO delegation comprised Dinesh Gunawardena MP, Prof. G.L. Peiris, Basil Rajapaksa, Prof. Tissa Vitharana, Vasudeva Nanayakkara MP, Raja Collure, Susil Premjayantha MP, Dullas Alahapperuma MP, Kumara Welgama MP and attorney-at-law Kapila Gamage, who represented National Freedom Front (NFF) leader Wimal Weerawansa.
Responding to a query, the spokesperson explained that the NEC was told in no uncertain terms that it couldn’t absolve itself of the responsibility for disrupting scheduled national level polls. Following the opening remarks by MP Gunawardena, Prof. Peiris pointed out the likelihood of the government initiating electoral reforms process in respect of the parliamentary polls and then deliberately holding up the process for obvious reasons.
Prof. Peiris compared the UNP-SLFP strategy leading to the postponement of Provincial Council polls indefinitely by purposely holding up the requisite parliamentary process with that of a similar project to sabotage next general election.
The NEC has been urged not to expect the Supreme Court or parliamentary intervention but to act on its own and initiate the process without further delay.
Prof. Peiris, who is also the Chairman of Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) told a media briefing at Punchi Borella yesterday NEC Chairman Deshapriya should act now without further talk. Prof. Peiris urged Deshapriya to leave the pavilion and walk up to the crease.
Prof. Peiris also recalled how justice Mark Fernando came down hard on Kumaratunga administration when an attempt was made to put off Local Government polls.
During Monday’s deliberations, the JO stressed that the NEC had the legal authority to ensure scheduled elections.
Provincial Council polls in three regions were put on hold last year and three scheduled to be held later this year were likely to be delayed unless the NEC intervened, Prof. Peiris told the briefing. The remaining three Provincial Councils are scheduled for 2019 ahead of presidential polls.