Opposition calls for elections before devolution

Friday, 28 July 2023 02:08 –      – 14

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SJB General Secretary Ranjith Madduma Bandara

  •  Accuses President of walking out when parties began to call for polls 
  •  Questions if the meeting was an attempt at devolution or a mere tactic to obtain votes
  •  Urges Govt. to reach a consensus on 13A before inviting other parties for talks 

The main opposition party, the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) yesterday urged President Ranil Wickremesinghe to conduct Local Government polls before engaging in discussions with political parties on the devolution of powers. According to SJB General Secretary Ranjith Madduma Bandara all groups including Tamil political parties present at the all-party meeting held on Wednesday called for Local Government polls.

“The 13A was essentially provided to all regions, including the North and East, as a means for the people to have control over their provinces through the provincial council system. However, we must address the fact that neither the previous regime nor the current one has held provincial council elections for the past six years. We seek an explanation for this situation from the President,” Madduma  Bandara said.

According to Madduma Bandara, while political parties from the North and East expressed similar sentiments, the President chose to abruptly leave the discussion instead. “Then is it an attempt at devolution or a mere tactic to obtain votes?” the MP asked.

The MP said during discussions in the Committee on Parliamentary Elections the opposition had even expressed willingness to hold the provincial council election using the previous electoral system if there were delays caused by the delimitation process.

“Talks on devolution is one step in the process. But hold the Local Government polls first,” he said. He also noted that despite the President’s claims of insufficient funds to hold an election, on the other hand, the President asserts that the country has returned to normalcy and has ample financial resources.

He further urged the Government to first reach a consensus on the implementation of the Thirteenth Amendment (13A) before inviting other parties to the discussion table. He pointed out that the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) had a different stance to that of President Wickremesinghe on this matter.

Following the meeting Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP M.A Sumanthiran also confirmed that Tamil parties had called for polls before discussions. “The talks must be held when LG polls are called,” he noted.  Meanwhile, ruling party MP Dr. Suren Raghavan said a second round of discussions will be held in August.



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