Provincial councils and the power struggles within

Provincial councils and the power struggles within

Written by Keshala Dias

15 May, 2017 | 8:59 pm

Power struggles in provincial councils have gripped the political arena.

The underlying tensions came to a head when Central Province Minister Pramitha Bandara Tennakoon, resigned from his position.

Of the fifty-eight seats in the Central Provincial Council, the UPFA holds thirty-three, while the UNP holds twenty-five.

However, eleven of the thirty-three UPFA Councillors are preparing to sit as independents. If this occurs, the composition of the Council will change to eleven independents, twenty-two UPFA Councillors and twenty-five UNP Councillors, giving the UNP a majority.

Chanaka Ilapperuma (Opposition Leader (UNP) – Central PC), speaking on the issue said:

[quote]”It will be a minority government. We are able to form the majority required. But, we have sought an opportunity to discuss these decisions with the UNP leader, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. As soon as he returns to the island, we will hold discussions with him and announce our decision”.[/quote]

Seventeen UPFA Councillors from the North Central Provincial Council supporting the Joint Opposition have decided to sit as independents.

While the councillors prepared to hand over affidavits against the chief minister to the governor, today, May 15, these affidavits were rejected by the governor.

The North Central Provincial Council whose term ends in September, comprises of thirty-three councillors.

At the 2012 election, the UPFA won twenty-one seats and the UNP won eleven seats while the JVP won one seat.

The most recent incident which has prompted the decision of seventeen of the twenty-one UPFA Councillors to sit as independents, is the removal of Provincial Health Minister K. A. Nandasena and replacing him with M. Herath.

The composition of the Council would thus change to seventeen independents, four UPFA Councillors, eleven UNP Councillors and one JVP Councillor.

The independent group, now in the majority, arrived at the governor’s residence, today, May 15, to submit affidavits against Chief Minister Peshala Jayaratne.

However, Governor P. B. Dissanayake had refused to accept the affidavits.

Dr. Prathiba Mahanamahewa (Attorney-at-Law) speaking on the matter said: [quote]”Under the Act, the governor has the power to refuse to accept these affidavits. This is where the conflict arises. The governor can refuse such a request. Second, the governor can consult with the president and dissolve the Provincial Council if it is unable to continue to function”.[/quote]

Rumours are rife that UPFA Councillors representing the Joint Opposition in the Southern Provincial Council, are also preparing for a power shift.

The Southern Provincial Council, whose term ends in March 2019, comprises of fifty-five councillors.

The UPFA won thirty-three seats, the UNP won fourteen seats, the JVP won five seats and the Democratic Party won three seats, at the last election.

What would happen to the balance of power in the Southern Provincial Council, in the event the UPFA Councilors representing the Joint Opposition decide to sit as independents?

UPFA General Secretary, Minister Mahinda Amaraweera spoke on the power struggles.

[quote]”As the Secretary of the UPFA, I can say that all the chief ministers were appointed based on a letter from the UPFA Secretary. If a decision is to be taken regarding them, it will be done by the UPFA. All the Councilors who say they will sit as independents were elected from the UPFA. If they are to go separately, they must leave the UPFA. If they violate discipline then we will have to take steps against them”.[/quote]

 

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