March 26, 2016, 6:59 pm
by Zacki Jabbar
The government expects the new Committee on National Delimitation appointed to examine complaints running into thousands received against the manner in which Municipal Wards had been demarcated under the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime to complete its task by about the middle of this year.
Deputy Minister of State Enterprise Development Eran Wickremeratne told the “Sunday Island” that once the review committee completed its work, a fresh set of delimitation proposals would have to be gazetted.
Asked when the new wards for local elections would be gazetted, he replied: “I cannot say, but we expect the Committee on National Delimitation (CND) to complete its work by about the middle of this year. Examining thousands of complaints from members of the public, civil society groups and political parties against the manner in which Municipal Wards had been demarcated under the Rajapaksa government would take time. We expect the process to be completed by about the middle of this year. Polls may be held by the end of this year.”
The CND in drafting a new set of delimitation proposals would also pay attention to density of population, geography and special situations to ensure that all peoples groups etc. are represented, he observed.
Wickremeratne said the review process was in keeping with the principles of democracy which required that a cross section of views and opinions had to be heard prior to enacting legislation.
Highways and Higher Education Minister Lakshman Kirielle said recently that the re-demarcation of wards had been decided on in the homes of a select group of Ministers and MP’s to suit the political interests of the Rajapaksas and their favourites.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said that there was no legal provision to hold local government elections until solutions were found to the problems concerning the re-demarcation of wards.
The deadline to submit petitions to the committee appointed to look into the faults of the delimitation process had been further extended as there were many complaints. Once those issues were resolved, the polls would be declared, he stressed.
“Even Lorenzo de Almeida could have carried out the re-demarcation process better,” the premier quipped.