‘No’ to field officers contesting in their work areas

Published : 9:10 am  August 29, 2017 | No comments so far |  | 


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LG Polls:

LATE-CITY--DM-1-254By Sandun A Jayasekera

Local Government and Provincial Councils Minister Faizer Musthapha has ruled out the request by the joint opposition and the Elections Commission to lift the ban on field officers contesting the local authorities’ election in their respective areas of work. 


He said if the Local Authorities (Amendment) Bill which was passed in Parliament last Friday provided for all public officers to contest such elections, it would lead to the politicization of grassroots level administration.

The Bill states that if a public officer expects to contest the local government election, he or she must resign from his or her post one year before the poll. Field officers like Samurdhi Development Officers, Grama Niladharis, Cooperative Development Officers, Agrarian Service Officers or Regional Forest Officers are not permitted to contest the elections so as to avoid influencing the voters.   “The claim that the restriction violates the rights of public officers does not carry weight because the objective is bona-fide and to clean local administration from political influence. But they are free to contest elections to another local body,” the minister told the media at his office.  He said many political parties and the Elections Commission Chairman wanted to allow public officers to contest the LG polls. But permitting public officers to contest the polls within their own area of work would give them an undue opportunity to influence voters resulting in a disadvantage to other candidates.   

“I appeal to all political parties not to let their local government level political leaders to nominate their wives, daughters, girlfriends, daughters-in-law or any other female relatives to the list of women candidates at an election because if they did that, the entire purpose of increased women representation will be lost. I also request them to give more and more opportunities to youth to enter politics via the LG level,” the Minister said.   

Meanwhile, the Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) said in a statement that the ban on field officers contesting local government elections was a move in the right direction to free local governance from politics.   It said it was natural that a Samurdhi Officer could easily influence a Samurdhi beneficiary family in his division to vote for him at a local poll.