Australian Advocacy for Good Governance in Sri Lanka (AAGGSL) has, in a statement signed by its President Dr Lionel Bopage, urged Sri Lankans to identify and reject unsuitable candidates particularly those involved in criminal activities.
The statement said: The Local government elections are to be held on 10 February 2018. Under the new mixed electoral system, 8,356 councillors are to be elected from 341 councils; this is an increase of 3,870 councillors.
The Executive Director of the People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) has, a recent media briefing, said that a large number of criminals have received nominations to contest the elections. PAFFREL further states that of the 243 complaints received so far, 182 have been confirmed, of which 61 pertain to the UNP, 60 pertain to the SLFP/UPFA and 48 pertain to the newly formed SLPP (Sri Lanka Peoples Peramuna). In addition, wheeler-dealers including political parties appear to be engaged in ‘bribing’ and ‘fooling’ the electorate to vote for their candidates.
The AAGGSL wishes to emphasise the solemn pledges made at the 2015 presidential election and the 2016 general elections, that rule of law, good governance and democracy would be established, and in particular, electoral malpractices will be prevented.
Local government institutions are, primarily, area-based representative bodies with a mandate to manage local issues and plan for the community needs. They are responsible for implementing programs and policies, setting their own regulations and by-laws, and providing a range of services – keeping the interests of the local communities at heart. Managing community infrastructure and assets such as local roads and bridges, public street lighting, drains, recreation and leisure facilities, libraries, parks and gardens, community safety and public amenity can be done efficaciously only in consultation and partnership with local communities and leaders. Councillors ought to be broad-minded, liberal and selfless to be able to serve the interests of their cities and towns.