PC elections not possible before Presidential polls – Election monitors | Sunday Observer

PC elections not possible before Presidential polls – Election monitors

Independent election monitors have ruled out the possibility of holding Provincial Council elections before the Presidential polls planned for December this year.

Despite a series of court cases pending before the Supreme Court and the Appeal Courts to speed up holding elections in eight Provincial Councils - Sabaragamuwa, North Central, Eastern, Central, North Western, Northern, Western and Southern - some of which have been lapsed over two years back, the delay in hearing the court cases might evaporate all hopes of holding the elections before November, the monitors said.

The next hearing of the Court of Appeal case has been fixed for September this year. “This is the reason why we asked for a special court to hear polls related cases on a priority basis. For these cases time is a crucial factor,” PAFFREL Executive Director Rohana Hettiarachchi said.

A writ petition filed seeking a Writ of Mandamus directing the Election Commission to hold the PC elections in respect of the lapsed councils was fixed for support by the Supreme Court early this month.

Petitions had been filed by former North Central Province Chief Minister S.M. Ranjith and former Sabaragamuwa Provincial Council Chief Minister Maheepala Herath in the Appeal Court seeking an order to hold the elections immediately. An activist group ‘Sathya Gaveshakayo’ has also gone to courts demanding the National Election Commission (EC) to hold the PC elections.

The EC on June 3 informed the Appeal Court that it agreed in principle to hold the PC elections forthwith even without a delimitation report if the court issues an order to do so.

But observers said it was unlikely that such a ruling, going against the existing elections law would be given by the Courts.

 It is expected the Courts would direct the parties to settle it through Parliament at the next hearing. Parliament has to approve a delimitation report prepared afresh to make way to introduce a new electoral system replacing a very unpopular preferential system. Hettiarachchi said, when the term of the Uva PC ends in September 2019, all provinces will be without proper administration.

The provincial Governors are required to oversee the functions until members to the councils are elected. “That is a huge handicap for the development activities and policy decisions of the respective provinces,” a state official said. The tenure of the Southern and Western PCs ended in April this year while the terms of the other PCs expired in 2017 and 2018. A legal hitch prevents the National Election Commission from holding PC elections.

The Election Commission Chairman has said he would resign if PC elections, which is next in line in the election calendar, is not held before the upcoming Presidential polls.