ECONOMYNEXT – The government and the National Election Commission (NEC) must take full responsibility for any increase in COVID-19 related deaths as a result of premature elections, the opposition Sammagi Jana Balavegaya said.
Former MP and SJB member S M Marikkar told the media today that though the party does not oppose elections, the priority now should be to overcome the ongoing pandemic, feed the hungry and rebuild the crisis-riddled economy.
Marikkar’s remarks come in the backdrop of an apparent difference of opinion between Election Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya and NEC Member Prof Ratnajeevan H Hoole.
Hoole had said in a statement on Friday (17) that the NEC was being arm-twisted to hold the parliamentary election on May 28, before it is deemed safe to hold an event of that scale. Director General of Health Services Dr. Anil Jasinghe and Army Commander Lt Gen Shavendra Silva had been named consultants to the NEC and it is upon their approval that a date may be decided on, he had said.
Deshapriya, however, later said that a date had yet to be agreed on and any decision would have to take into consideration the recommendations of all stakeholders.
Marikkar, commenting on the exchange, said: “Elections should be held to protect democracy. But we would like to ask the Election Commissioner, who is considered the greatest civil servant in this country, whether he is ready to lead the people to an election in this hour of death.
He called for a clarification from the government on whether or not expert recommendations had been heeded.
“As the opposition, we say this an election of death and it must be defeated,” he added. (Colombo/Apr20/2020)