Elections Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya said when the official term of a provincial council ends; the date of election to appoint new members must be announced by the Commission within a week.
“A provincial council election could be postponed only in the case of a tragedy like the one which occurred recently or by a popular mandate or court decision. A Minister or any other has no powers to postpone a provincial council election in accordance with the law” he added.
The term of three provincial councils, namely Eastern, North Central and Sabaragamuwa are slated to expire this September.
Deshapriya said this in response to questions raised by the media when he participated in a shramadana campaign jointly organised by officials of the Elections Department and the Ratnapura Municipal Council to collect and dispose plastic and other non degradable waste in the flood affected Ratnapura on Saturday.
Commenting on Pradesheeya Sabha or Municipal Council elections, Deshapriya said three factors had to be fullfilled to hold such polls. He said some of them have been already completed. “The subject Minister is due to present the relevant Bill in Parliament shortly.After Parliament approves the Speaker will give his ascent to it and the Act will be effective after July 1. Earlier the Elections Commissioner had powers to act on his own. But now delays have occurred because there were three officers to take deciisions” he added.
Deshapriya said postponement of elections was not a phenomenon peculiar to the last two years only. Earlier there were local bodies in the Batticaloa district where elections were not held for four years. Electoral Register revision applications are being received by the Elections Department in June as done customarily every year. In the case of flood and landslide affected districts revision work will be completed by the end of July or August this year.
Deshapriya said he is prepared to hold elections to Provincial Councils completing their office shortly including Sabaragamuwa .