Ranil writes to MR on polls

UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe has written to President Mahinda Rajapaksa on the Northern Provincial Council elections scheduled to be held in September.
In his letter, Wickremesinghe says holding the elections gives effect to the United Nations Human Rights Council Resolution of 21 March 2013, which welcomed “the announcement by the Government of Sri Lanka to hold elections to the Provincial Council in the Northern Province in September 2013”.
However he said the implementation of the resolution will require the election to conform to Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that “the will of the people shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.”
He says the United National Party and other Opposition political parties have, in Parliament, consistently referred to a number of incidents in the Northern Province where the Government machinery has been utilized to intimidate members supporting Opposition political parties.
“The situation is further aggravated by the open friction between some of the military authorities in the North and Opposition politicians. This has resulted in a loss of confidence in the ability to conduct free and fair elections in the Northern Province,” he added.
Wickremesinghe has also sought for a meeting with the President to discuss issues related to the polls.
To ensure a free and fair election of the Northern Provincial Council, Wickremesinghe says it is essential that several measures be implemented immediately by the Government, prior to announcing the Elections to the Northern Provincial Council.
Among the measures is the the restoration of the 17th Amendment of the Constitution by repealing the relevant provisions of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, Amendment restoring the 17th Amendment to the Constitution, for the above purpose, to include an additional provision to strengthen the Police Commission on the lines of the LLRC recommendation that “Such a Commission should be empowered to monitor the performance of the Police Service and ensure that all police officers act independently and maintain a high degree of professional conduct” and the immediate replacement of the Governor of the Northern Province.
He says instead of a retired military officer, a civilian accepted by all parties should be appointed as the Governor of the Northern Province.  (Colombo Gazette)
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