Backtracking on its previous decision to contest the Eastern Provincial Council elections under the UPFA banner, the SLMC today decided to contest the elections separately, its leader Rauff Hakeem confirmed.
“ We are contesting under the SLMC’s tree symbol for the elkections , however we will work very closely with the government during the election” Speaking to the Daily Mirror Rauff Hakeem said.
The Central Committee of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party will meet tonight to take some crucial decisions, including whether to accept the condition put forward by the SLMC to contest under the UPFA Banner and Betel leaf symbol at the forthcoming election to the Eastern Provincial Council, SLFP sources said yesterday.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa would preside over the meeting to be held at Temple Trees commencing at 7.00 p.m., Administrative Secretary of the SLFP S. H. Ariyasena said yesterday.
Sources also confirmed that the President would have to take the tough but bitter final decision on whether the Party would grant nomination to kith and kin of Cabinet Ministers and their deputies as demanded.
The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) has become the most sought after political party at the forthcoming Eastern Provincial Council elections being approached by both the government and the Tamil National Alliance. However, the SLMC has so far stuck to its guns laying down rigid conditions before signing an MOU with either party.
Party’s General Secretary and parliamentarian M.T.Hassan Ali told The Nation yesterday that both government representatives and the TNA met their leader Justice Minister Rauf Hakeem but the party was yet to get any concrete response to its conditions.
Implementation of the LLRC recommendations viz-a-viz the Muslims of this country, implementation of the 13th Amendment especially on Police and land matters, powers vested with the Chief Minister were some of the conditions being drafted in the proposed MoU and would be discussed with government representatives next week, Hassan Ali said.
A UNP spokesperson, speaking to The Island, in the absence of the General Secretary Tissa Attanayake, who has gone abroad, said that the duo have been given seven days time to answer the charges. They have also been accused of ignoring requests by the General Secretary to perform their duties and violating party discipline by their public conduct over the last two months.
However, Southern Provincial Council Member Maithri Gunaratne said that the suspension of Lakthilaka and Pathirana had not been endorsed either by the Advisory Council or the Working Committee and therefore violates the principles of natural justice.
He claimed that the letters had not been signed by Attanayake, who was away in London and was therefore an arbitrary decision taken by UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe.Prior to suspension a show cause notice has to be issued, but that has not been done in this instance, Gunaratne noted. He observed that Wickramesinghe has either not understood the party constitution or was being intellectually dishonest. Gunaratne said that it was due to Wickremesinghe’s dictatorial conduct that so many UNPers had crossed over to the government and even he (Gunaratne) had to go to Court.
The UNP’s Chief Organiser for Kotte and WPC member Shiral Lakthillaka and Matara District MP Buddhika Pathirana were suspended from the party yesterday, for allegedly failing to perform their duties and also supporting an independent group during the third phase of the Local Government Polls which concluded on October 8.
When provincial politicians undermine the rule of law
Relative calm prevailed in the 23 Municipal and Urban Councils which went for elections on, apart from the shooting incident in Mulleriyawa, Kolonnawa which took the life of former MP Baratha Lakshman Premachandra.
However large number of election law violations was reported in all areas where the election was held, except two. The biggest election law violators were provincial level politicians who are just entering national politics. Through out the Election Day such individuals including Rohana Dissanayake of Matale, Johnston Fernando and Jayarathne Herath of Kurunegala and Duminda Silva of Colombo, roamed the streets in vehicles with a large number of supporters. Apart from the above mentioned areas such activity could also be seen in Rathnapura, Hambanthota, Galle and Matara.
Vehicle Parades All Around
Although the Department of Elections successfully intervened to stop vehicle parades in Matale and Kurunegala, they were unable to do so in Kolonnawa. Unfortunately one of these illegal vehicle parades was the main cause of the shoot out in Mulleriyawa which lead to the death of Premachandra.
The SLFP-led UPFA secured 21 out of 23 LG bodies at Saturday’s polls while the UNPwon the Colombo Municipal Council and the government ally, the SLMC, secured the Kalmunai MC, where the TNA came second.
The UPFA won the Anuradhapura MC, the Badulla MC, the Dehiwela-Mt. Lavinia MC, the Sri Jayewardenapura Kotte MC, the Moratuwa MC, the Kolonnawa UC, Kotikawatte-the Mulleriyawa Pradeshiya Sabha, the Galle MC, Negombo MC, Gampaha MC, the Hambantota MC, Sooriyawewa PS, the Hambantota PS, the Kandy MC, Kundasale PS, the Kandy Gravets and Gangawatta Korale PS, the Kurunegala MC, the Matale MC, the Matara MC, the Nuwara Eliya MC and the Ratnapura MC.Saturday’s third phase of LG polls covered 23 LG bodies in 13 electoral districts but elections to two LG bodies in the Vanni East were postponed due to landmine clearing operation.
The UPFA secured 250 LG bodies in the first and second phases, TNA 30, UNP 09, SLMC 04,National Congress 02, TULF 02 and Up Country People’s Front (UPFA ally) 01. The JVP failed to secure a single LG body in all three phases.
Led by former WPC member A. J. M. Muzammil, the UNP obtained 101,920 (43.01%) votes to win the CMC. The UPFA polled 77,089 votes (32.53%), while the Democratic People’s Alliance, which received the support of the TNA secured 26,229 votes (11.07%). The SLMC, which contested on its own in spite of being invited by the UPFA to field candidates on the UPFA ticket, managed to obtain 9, 979 votes (4.21%).
Political sources said that an attempt by the UPFA to persuade some of Muzammil’s team to switch allegiance ahead of the Oct. 8 poll failed to materialise. Addressing the UPFA’s final media briefing at the Mahaweli Centre last Wednesday, MP Lakshman Yapa Abeywardene claimed that several UNP candidates would join the UPFA.
The Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) said today that the concluded Local Government elections, was not free and fair. Speaking to the Daily Mirror online Executive Director of CaFFE Keerthi Tennakoon said that there was heavy violation of election laws in the run up to the elections. “There was heavy misuse of state property and the law enforcement authorities did not act as was expected. There was also illegal propaganda and campaigning which marred the polls," he said. He went on to note that despite the Department of Elections taking all necessary measures to curb illegal activity during the run up to the elections many politicians flouted the law.
However, he went on to note that overall there was a peaceful atmosphere prevalent during election day, October 8. "Except for the very unfortunate incident that occurred in Mulleriyawa the other parts of the country where the election was held saw a very peaceful atmosphere in the overall context. There were 86 violations of election laws and five reported cases of intimidation and assault but we saw a very peaceful environment in which the voter was not afraid to go to the booth," he said.
Commenting on the shooting that took place in Mulleriyawa today, Tennakoon said this was the boiling point for which there was a build-up. "During the run up to the elections there were many cases of assault and intimidation in the area, these went unreported, due to the prevalent violence. During the run up to the elections there were extra monitors put on duty to areas. Even the Elections Department was aware of this situation and today’s extraordinary incident summed up the election in the area which was marred by violence throughout," he said. (HF)
Campaign trail winds up on Wednesday Polls monitors say people apathy due to lack of aggressive campaign by opposition parties By Mirudhula Thambiah
More than 1.5 million voters will go to the polls on Saturday, October 8 to elect representatives to 23 local bodies including the crucial Colombo Municipal Council (CMC). In the third phase of the election to local authorities in the country, members will be elected to 17 municipal councils, five Pradeshiya Sabhas and one urban council.
The campaign trail ends on Wednesday and the next couple of days will see final ditch efforts by the candidates to win over voters. The total number of registered voters in these areas stands at 1,589,622 with the highest number being from within the Colombo Municipality-consisting of 393,085 voters followed by the Dehiwala- Mount Lavinia Municipality with 132,903.
Polling will take place in 1,167 booths with 6,488 candidates contesting for 420 seats. Postal voting was held on Thursday and Friday. Some 4,505 public servants were eligible for the postal vote.
The Sunday Times learns that the ballot sheet for the Colombo Municipality poll would be two-feet long as it accommodates nine political parties, 10 independent groups, 19 symbols and 1,121 candidates.
The country’s oldest political party, the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP), fielding its own candidates for next Saturday’s elections to the Kotte Municipal Council, has drawn up an ambitious plan to develop the country’s administrative capital.
The LSSP, a constituent party of the ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA), has decided to go it alone in this electorate, as their Kotte organizer, Nuresh Rajapaksa was not accommodated on the Alliance list, according to senior party leader Prof. Tissa Vitarana.
“There are a large number of voters who are disillusioned with the earlier UPFA administration. There are also UNP voters who feel that the UNP will not win power, but would like to be associated with the new administration.
But they don’t want to vote for the UPFA. They have an alternate choice in the LSSP, which will enable them to get the benefits of administrative power,” Minister Vitarana explained. He said that all indications are that the UPFA will be voted into power in next Saturday‘s election, owing to the tide of electoral victories for the UPFA, and the disorder within the UNP and JVP.
The Professor, who is now the Minister (Senior) of Science & Technology, said that the LSSP has put forward a list of 26 politically experienced candidates for Kotte, including an advocate, a trade union leader, two former members of the Kotte UC, a graduate Buddhist priest and a woman candidate.
The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) yesterday said its supporters were free to vote for any party of their choice at Saturday’s elections to 23 local councils as it backed no party in the fray. “Let the people decide as to whom they should vote for,” TNA leader R. Sampanthan told the Sunday Times.
His remarks came after he rejected a request for support from the Democratic People’s Front (DPF) whose leader Mano Ganeshan is a mayoral candidate for Colombo.
Mr. Sampanthan said he told DPF candidate Nalliah Kumarakuruparan who made the request that the TNA wished to remain neutral. However, Mr. Ganeshan told the Sunday Times he was confident of the backing of Tamil voters. In addition to the polls for the Colombo Municipal Council, the DPF is contesting the Dehiwela-Mount Lavinia Municipal Council and the Kolonnawa Urban Council.