Appointment of Pohottuwa members to Maharagama UC: UNP group cries foul | Sunday Observer

Appointment of Pohottuwa members to Maharagama UC: UNP group cries foul

The UNP group in the Maharagama Urban Council will seek legal redress against the alleged illegal appointment of six Pohottuwa members to the Council last week.

UNP member Dhanushka Ramanayake said they were of the view that these appointments were illegal and arbitrary.

“If a member is to be appointed outside the additional list, it should be done after consulting the subject Minister, as per Section 65 (a) of the Local Authorities Election (Amendment) Act of 2017, but this provision in the law has been totally disregarded in this instance,” he said.

“The new law was supposed to give the voters one representative per Ward, that noble objective too becomes void with the appointment of the Pohottuwa members to the Maharagama Urban Council,” he said, adding that this sets a very bad precedent.

Six female candidates from Phottuwa were appointed to the Urban Council last week when six elected members of the Independent Group II, which contested from the bicycle symbol at the Local Government election in February, resigned.

They took oaths before former President Mahinda Rajapaksa at his official residence in Colombo. The new members are Kanthi Kodikara, Chitrani Sugathapala, Rewathi Sigera, Savithri Gunasekera, Dineththi Jayasekera and Inoka Anuradha Ranaweera. A senior Election Commission official who wished to remain anonymous refuted the allegation that the appointments were illegal.

“If a female seat becomes vacant, it is compulsory to fill that vacancy with a female.

And in this instance all females in the additional list have been appointed, thus outside appointments were sanctioned.”

Asked about the ‘one representative to a Ward’ requirement, he said the EC goes by the undertaking from the Party General Secretary or the Independent Group leader that the candidates have fulfilled the criteria to be appointed to the UC.

It is alleged that some of the new appointees do not represent the Maharagama seat.

The UNP Group of 11 along with other like-minded members launched a peaceful protest at the Council on Thursday. Ramanayake said five JVP members, one SLFP member and five members of the Independent Group II joined them in the black-arm-band protest.

During the protest, a group of former members who were supporting Pohottuwa arrived at the Council and a heated argument ensued where UC member Wasantha Masakorala was assaulted by the intruders.

It was also alleged that Lalith Gunawardena who is a member representing Independent Group II was locked up in the UC Chairman’s office preventing him from joining the black-arm-band protest.

Earlier, the UNP filed an election petition at the Appeal Court over the appointment of Pohottuwa members. It is to be taken up on Thursday, June 14.

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