Pandemonium in Sri Lanka Parliament over local polls
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 21 May 2002, 15:51 GMT]
Pandemonium reigned in the Sri Lanka's parliament Tuesday when the Speaker refused permission to the leader of the Janata Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) Mr.Wimal Weerawansa to speak against alleged malpractices in Monday's local elections. The Speaker adjourned the sittings for fifteen minutes as the situation in the house was beyond his control, with MPs of the main opposition Peoples Alliance and the JVP shouting slogans and holding placards in the chamber denouncing the manner in which local elections were conducted Monday.
The Speaker Mr.Joseph Michael Perera refused to let Mr. Weerawansa speak, as he (the speaker) had not been informed in advance. The pandemonium in the house was further confounded as the newly installed sound system in parliament broke down and no could hear anything spoken in the house. The speaker announced that there would be no sittings tomorrow because of the break down.
The Leader of the Opposition Mr. Mahinda Rajapakse said Tuesday that he could not by any means identify the election held Monday as free and fair.
He accused the UNF government for unduly influencing the poll, preventing a large number of voters from exercising their franchise.
The United National Party (UNP), the main constituent of the United National Front (UNF) government Tuesday said its victory at the Monday's local authorities election is an endorsement of the people for the peace efforts of the Prime Minister Mr.Ranil Wickremasinghe.
"The UNF government will take all efforts to fulfill the expectations of the people in bringing permanent peace thus ensuring economic prosperity to the country", said the Deputy Leader of the UNP Mr.Karu Jayasuriya.
"The people in the south have once again expressed their support to the peace efforts launched by our Prime Minister. The people have endorsed the new political culture of the UNF government in finding a permanent and acceptable political solution to the conflict," said Minister Karu Jayasuriya.
According to the results of the poll conducted Monday for seventeen local authorities, the ruling UNF captured fifteen including two Municipal Councils. The UNF supported Liberal Party captured the Ratnapura Municipal council and an independent group captured a Pradeshiya Sabha.
With the last Monday local election, the UNP has captured the administration of 240 local authorities out of 247. The main opposition Peoples Alliance led by President Chandrika has captured only four local bodies. The third largest political party in the parliament, the Janata Vimukthi Peramuna was able to win only one local body. The elections to local bodies in the south were conducted in three stages; and the third stage was held Monday.
The final stage of the local election to fifty-nine local authorities in the northeast province is scheduled to be held on September 25.
Elections to Tamil local authorities have been postponed on requests made by Tamil political parties, which say that holding the polls at this stage would hinder the progress of the current peace talks.