LAHORE - The PML-N has decided to hold the next local government elections on non-party basis, rejecting demand of the Opposition to hold the election on party basis.

The decision was made at a PML-N meeting and accorded approval by the party president, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

The meeting also decided to fix minimum age limit of the local government (LG) election candidates to 25 years, against a Punjab Assembly committee decision to lower the age limit to 18 for present 21 years.

The party meeting held that the said decisions would strengthen democracy and the institutions at the grass roots level where elected representatives would better serve the electorate by maintaining political impartiality and non-partisanship. The LG system would also make the elected members more powerful and authoritative when they would be politically detached.

The PTI-led Opposition in Punjab Assembly has been voicing for party based elections in line with the LG polls in Khyber PK, where the PTI is running a coalition government. In the proposed Punjab Local Government Ordinance 2013, which is under scrutiny before the Punjab legislators, nothing has been said about holding the election on party or non-party basis. It has left to it to the assembly to take decision on this score.

This party decision of non-party LG elections would now be put to the provincial assembly where the PML-N enjoys a decisive majority.

The party meeting also upset the decision of the special joint committee of the Punjab Assembly that earlier took to reduce the age for contesting the LG election from 21 to 18 years. The 21 years was laid down in the proposed law but the party meeting has increased the lower limit of age to 25 years which is at par with the minimum age fixed for contesting the national elections.

The Special Committee of the Punjab Assembly which approved the draft law, also gave representation to the women members in the Panchayat Council at the rural level. The committee decided to elevate the vice chairman to the office of Chairman Union Council if that office got vacated and no-trust against chairman and the vice chairman would not be allowed.

The period of second no-confidence at the level of the district council, Municipal Corporation and Municipal Committee, and against mayor and deputy mayor has been increased from six months to one year. A metropolitan corporation will comprise nine deputy mayors and anyone can have additional powers at per requirement. Each deputy mayor will be appointed to five lakh people.