LG bodies election system: Ministry mulls combining wards | Sunday Observer

LG bodies election system: Ministry mulls combining wards

The Provincial Council and Local Government Ministry will explore the possibility of combining certain wards as a solution to reducing the ‘heads’ (number of councillors) in Local Government bodies at a future election.

The Subject Minister Faiszer Mustapha said, either, they will have to combine the wards or go for a fresh delimitation exercise to bring down the numbers of LG members, which almost doubled at the last election. The February polls resulted in over 8,300 local councillors being appointed to the 340 local bodies which previously had less than 4,500. Nearly half of the councils were hung councils with none of the political parties being able to win over 50 percent of the seats. However, the Minister said, he would not support a call by a section of the political parties to revert back to the former preferential voting system to elect members to either the Provincial Councils or the LG bodies.

“That would be breaching the mandate of the people to this government in August 2015,” he said, adding that a broader consensus is a must to bring in necessary amendments to the election law.

The LG election system came under heavy criticism in the aftermath of the February polls, the first election to be held under the new system. President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said they would instruct a thorough review of the system.

Minister Musthapha said it will be hard to get on board the minority parties to agree on a solution such as combining wards.

“It is high time they go beyond the ethnic constituency mindset, look at a political system beneficial to the public and take a stand,” he said.

The Ministry will set in motion the process to bring in amendments to the LG Act shortly. The Minister said they have four years to complete the process when the next LG elections have to be held.