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Buddhist monks set to derail Lanka polls

International desk || shiningbd

Published: 21:45, 10 April 2021  
Buddhist monks set to derail Lanka polls

Gotabaya and Mahinda honor Buddhist monks

While there is pressure on Sri Lanka from India and the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to hold the long-delayed Provincial Council (PC) elections, there are a number political factors preventing the Gotabaya Rajapaksa government from holding the polls in the foreseeable future.

Government ministers have said that the polls could be held at the end of 2021. But that seems more and more unlikely with every passing day.

Firstly, the delimitation of constituencies for holding elections under the First Past the Post System remains a highly contested issue. The Delimitation Commission’s report had been defeated in parliament in 2018 and it is unlikely that another report will have safe passage. The ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) is itself divided on its recommendations.

Of course, Parliament can resolve to use the existing district-wise Proportional Representation System and hold the polls. But for this, there ought to be a will to hold the elections. The fact is, there is no will.

Centralizing and majoritarian forces led by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and top Buddhist monks, do not want Provincial Councils as they see them as being antithetical to national unity and a singularity of national purpose.

The conduct of the erstwhile Northern Provincial Council under the stewardship of Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran did not help build confidence in devolution of power.

The Council was mostly passing resolutions on human rights violations and the need for internal self-determination for the Tamils. Precious little was done to formulate and implement development plans. The Council and its ministers were compulsively antagonistic to Colombo.

On Thursday, uniforms belonging to the newly-established environment police unit of the Jaffna Municipal Council, were seen as being similar to the LTTE police uniform.

The police have arrested Jaffna Mayor Mannivannan in this connection. In the Eastern Province two young Muslims were arrested allegedly for spreading Jehadist ideas though classes for high school students.