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Activists urge elections commission to fix poll date with public safety in mind

ECONOMYNEXT – A group of Opposition political activists are urging the Elections Commission to resist pressure from political elements to fix early dates for the Parliamentary General Elections which were postponed by the advent of the Coronavirus pandemic.

“The priority is to ensure the safety and well-being of our people. If some party wants to hasten the electoral process in the midst of the COVID19 outbreak in Sri Lanka, it will gravely undermine the dedication of our doctors, healthcare workers and other government servants who are working around the clock to suppress the spread of the pandemic in the country,” the letter said.

The activists, Lihini Fernando, Rasika Jayakody, Charana Kanankegamage, Namal Wijayamuni Soysa and Dhanushka Fernando asked the Commissioners to consult all relevant stakeholders in the health sector before deciding on the Election date.

In their letter the activists said that the Secretary to the President Dr P.B Jayasundara in a letter to the Chairman of the Elections Commission on April 06 indicated that the government’s intention is to “have the Parliamentary election before the end of May, irrespective of the unprecedented health crisis the country is grappling with.”

The President has constitutional powers to revoke the Gazette notification to dissolve Parliament enabling the current legislature to function until September 2020. This will give ample time for the Elections Commission to prepare for the election without exposing the public to the risk of COVID19. All political parties in Parliament have pledged to support the government to run the country until the end of Parliament’s term and in this context, we believe, there is no need to unnecessarily hasten the electoral process jeopardizing the public.

Therefore, we request the Elections Commission to make a decision on the election date considering the matter from a public safety perspective. As political activists of the opposition, we have written to the Elections Commission urging them not to give way to political pressures and consult all relevant stakeholders in the health sector before deciding on the Election date.

The President has constitutional powers to revoke the Gazette notification to dissolve Parliament enabling the current legislature to function until September 2020. This will give ample time for the Elections Commission to prepare for the election without exposing the public to the risk of COVID19. All political parties in Parliament have pledged to support the government to run the country until the end of Parliament’s term and in this context, we believe, there is no need to unnecessarily hasten the electoral process jeopardizing the public, they said.

“Therefore, we request the Elections Commission to make a decision on the election date considering the matter from a public safety perspective,” they said. (Colombo, April 11, 2020)
By Arjuna Ranawana