By Janith Aranze
The Elections Commissioner, W. W. M. Deshapriya has announced that elections in twenty-three local authorities will be held in October, after they were postponed for more then a year due to the implementation of Emergency Regulations.
The elections will be held for seventeen Municipal Councils, five Pradeshiya Sabhas and one Town Council across Sri Lanka. Deshapriya told The Sunday Leader that no definite date has been set for these elections. “We have not announced a date yet, we will only announce the date after the nominations,” he said. Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), has said that whilst they are ‘relieved’ elections are to be held, they still oppose the use of Emergency Regulations to interfere with the functioning of local authorities. “It is absolutely vital that Emergency Regulations are lifted, if there is no emergency then there is no need for Emergency Regulations,” said Executive Director of CPA, Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu. In a statement released on August 18, the CPA condemned the use of Emergency Regulation, No.7 of 2011, where it gives the President power to appoint Competent Authorities to run the affairs of local bodies. “We are of the view that the use of emergency powers in day-to-day governance in peacetime is an abuse of Presidential powers and unacceptable in a democracy,” the statement read.
Government Spokesman, Keheliya Rambukwella, said that the government is in the process of removing Emergency Regulations but it will take time. “We cannot give a definite deadline of when they will be completely removed but we are working on it. They have been in place for the last 30 years, so it cannot happen over-night. As a matter of policy, we do not want to hang on to these regulations,” he said.