Sri Lanka will hold polls for the 341 local councils on February 10, which is being seen as the first electoral test for President Maithripala Sirisena-led unity government.
"The election for all 341 councils will be held on February 10, 2018," Chairman of the independent Elections Commission, Mahinda Deshapriya told reporters at a press conference here.
He said that the Commission held lengthy discussions on the possible dates and unanimously decided to hold the election on February 10.
The unity government of Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has been facing criticism for delaying the local government polls since 2015.
The elections have been postponed for want of electoral reforms and demarcation of new wards.
The Chairman noted the date will be gazetted only on the December 26 due to technical concerns.
If the gazette in this regard is issued on December 22 or 23, the election should be held on February 8, as the election should be held within 49 days of issue of the gazette, Deshapriya said.
The Joint Opposition, led by former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, had challenged the government to hold elections and not to keep postponing them for the fear of losing to the Rajapaksa faction.
Sirisena held talks with Rajapaksa loyalists to patch up and contest the polls together. But the talks failed because the Rajapaksa faction urged Sirisena to abandon the unity government with Wickremesinghe's United National Party (UNP), media reports said.
Rajapaksa loyalists have formed the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) after separating from Sirisena-led Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP).
It will be the first time that local government elections will be held under the new voting system, which was passed by the Sri Lanka government. Under the new system, the seats of local government was increased to 8,825 and 25 per cent quota were reserved for women.
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