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Bill in Parliament soon for Eastern polls

COLOMBO: The Government will present a Bill in Parliament next week to facilitate the holding of Local Government elections in the Eastern Province which came under the full control of the Security Forces on Wednesday.

Chief Government Whip Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle told the media yesterday that the Bill seeks to cancel the nominations already submitted for Local Government polls in the province and call for fresh nominations.

“The draft legislation has been sent to the Supreme Court to be examined for its constitutionality. We expect to receive its determination by Tuesday and hope to place it before the House and get it passed on the same day,” he said.

Once the Bill is passed, elections will be held for every Urban Council and Pradeshiya Sabha in the province where polls were not held.

Fernandopulle said the Government’s intention was to enable the people of the East to exercise their political powers which they were long deprived of.

“The President is also considering holding a separate Provincial Council Election for the Eastern province in line with the Supreme Court ruling on the North and the East merger. It will be held after or at the latter part of the Local Government poll if necessary,” he added. The Government has commenced a movement from the East to win the hearts of the people, he announced.

The Government will take immediate measures to develop the road network and provide water and electricity to the liberated areas in Thoppigala, Nation Building Minister Susantha Punchinilame told the Government’s weekly press briefing held at Information Department yesterday.

He said: “Thoppigala possesses a series of geographical patterns. However, the LTTE has laid lot of landmines in Thoppigala area. Before resettling the people, the Government has to clear all these landmines because the UNHCR should give an assurance that all landmines have been cleared to resettle the people.”

He said the Government intends to develop Thoppigala as a model. The Government is also exploring the possibility of establishing a Military Training Centre at Thoppigala.

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