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Mahinda Deshapriya – “Election Commission is not trying to delay Parliamentary Poll”

ECONOMYNEXT – Chief Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya is assuring Sri Lankans that the Commission is not doing “anything underhand” to delay the Parliamentary Poll.

“We strongly believe that in a democracy it is vital that a Parliament that has been elected by the people should function,” he said in a statement issued today June 1, which has been declared Voters Day in Sri Lanka.

He said that lawyers representing the Commission have already informed the Supreme Court that it cannot hold the elections on June 20 as earlier decided because of the conditions in the country.

“If there is no legal barrier we can hold the elections 60 to 70 days from the time we are cleared to do so,” he said.

Deshapriya went on to say that the Commission has received guidelines from the Health Authorities as to how the election should be conducted.

“We now have to live according to the New Normal or even according to a “Reasonable Normal” and according to that we have to deploy Health Service personnel to the polling booths,” he said.

That has increased the number of Public Servants required for the elections and therefore the number of Postal Votes.

“We are at present preparing the Postal Votes and expect to have them completed by the third week of June,” he said.

The NEC will have to deploy a bigger staff for this election, but the amount of time they can spend at work will be less because of the health precautions that everyone has to take.

Not only this Parliamentary election but also the proposed Provincial Council elections will be held under these conditions we believe because we have been told by the Health experts that we will have to live with COVID 19 even until the end of 2021.

Six Fundamental Rights Petitions are currently being heard in the Supreme Court challenging the election date and the refusal of the President to reconvene Parliament. (Colombo, June 1, 2020)

Reported by Arjuna Ranawana