Religious leaders and civil society activists will be meeting leaders of political parties to discuss what should be done with regards to incidents of unparliamentary behaviour by MPs and the need to ensure the proper selection of candidates for local government elections.

The meeting comes following recent incidents of MPs turning violent within Parliament premises and the most recent incident where Minister Harin Fernando was seen and heard using unparliamentary language on a MP of the Opposition.

The March 12 Movement led by polls monitor, People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) along with the Archbishop of Colombo and the Mahanayakes of the Malwatte and Asgiriya Chapters will be meeting the party leaders soon.

Executive Director of PAFFREL, Rohana Hettiarachchi said that elections monitoring bodies had requested a meeting with the Minister of Local Government and Provincial Councils, Secretary of the Ministry of Local Government and Provincial Councils and the Delimitation Commission.

“We are compiling a list of past incidents that have taken place in the House and are unbefitting the seat of democracy like the recent brawl which left a MP hospitalized,” he mentioned.

“There are approximately 8,000 politicians who are going to be elected to the local government authorities. The complete responsibility of selecting the candidates falls on the political parties,” Hettiarachchi said.

He said that it was the electorate and seat organizers who do the selection. “We are forming pressure groups at the district level to apply social pressure to make sure that the suitable candidates are chosen,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Election Commission has informed PAFFREL in writing that the Election Commission was ready to conduct the elections and that they were against the postponement.

In addition, the commission has informed that it was willing to make the regulations necessary for the elections to be held despite the technical and legal issues in the Act still not being fixed in the law.

“The number of members and electorates and seats should however be gazetted. The elections monitoring bodies will collectively request that this be done as until this is done by the Government and the Ministry of Local Government and Provincial Councils, the matter is beyond the control of the Election Commission,” he added.
(R LJ)