Local government and Provincial Council Minister Faizer Mustapha has refused to accept the final report of the delimitation review committee. His action has fuelled speculation that the local government elections will be delayed further.Committee Chairman Ashoka Peiris tried to present the report to Minister Mustapha yesterday in Colombo in the presence of the media, but the latter declined to accept it. The delay in the submission of the report has led to the postponement of local government polls.
Minister Mustapha said that he could not accept the report as two of the five committee members had not placed their signatures thereon.
Committee members, Saliya Mathew appointed by the UPFA and Attorney at Law S Misbah appointed by the UNP have not signed the report.
Minister Mustapha lost his temper when Peiris, in answer to a question by a journalist, revealed the political parties the two members who had not signed the report belonged to. He said he did not consider them as party men but members of the committee.
The committee members who had signed the report, Ashoka Peiris, Attorney at Law Upul Kumarapperuma appointed by the JVP and Prof. Balasundaram Pillai appointed by the TNA, were present yesterday.
Minister Mustapaha called on Committee Chairman Peiris to inform the two committee members in writing that it was mandatory for them to sign the report.
Peiris said that there was no such need for informing his committee members of that as the final report was compiled by the five members as a joint exercise.
The minister said that the two members who had not signed the report wanted some more time to peruse the final version of thereof. “This is not a complete report. I cannot accept an incomplete report. My ministry provided the committee with all they asked from us. Our ministry is under pressure to make this delimitation process a success.”
Had a complete report been submitted yesterday, the ministry could have gazetted it next Monday, Minister Mustapha said, adding that he needed to consult legal experts of the ministry to ascertain the legality of the report not signed by two of its members. The minister said that the report had been signed by only three members and it had to be viewed against the provisions of the Local Authorities Elections (Amendment). Act, No. 22 of 2012 to decide whether it was acceptable.
Mustapha said the report could be read within a couple of days but he was not sure whether those who had not signed it would change would endorsed it. “They can abstain from signing the report but then they are legally bound to give reasons for their decision.”
by Maheesha Mudugamuwa