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No elections till last COVID-19 patient recovers, surprised SJB tells NEC Chairman

ECONOMYNEXT – A date for the upcoming parliamentary elections must be announced only after the last COVID-19 patient has officially recovered, the opposition Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) said.

Writing to National Election Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya today, SJB Secretary General Ranjith Madduma Bandara said that scientific confirmation must be sought that no more carriers of the novel coronavirus exist in Sri Lanka before going ahead with elections.

Candidates will need at least five weeks for their campaign activities in the event of an election, noted Bandara.

“We express our strongest displeasure and opposition to the stubborn announcement of a date for the election amid such chaos and confusion,” he said.

The SJB was also critical of the government’s apparent hurry to secure a two-thirds majority in parliament.

“The government, with its target of a two-thirds majority, decided to dissolve a parliament that could’ve run till September, this year. When it was clear that the coronavirus could impact the election, when the pandemic was already at a critical stage, the government went ahead and called for nominations. Even as it was imposing curfew around the country, the government was on election mode,” said Bandara.

However, he expressed his appreciation of the NEC for its earlier decision to postpone the polls as well as its attempt to seek the opinion of the Supreme Court.

“The SJB repeatedly appealed for the postponement of the election. We all firmly believe that human life is more important than going to the polls,” said Bandara.

He thanked Deshapriya for heeding the call of a so called ‘let the people breathe’ campaign, which he claimed was spearheaded by the SJB with the participation of civil society and social media activists, to not hold elections before June 2.

“However, we are startled by the announcement yesterday that the polls will be held on June 20,” he said. (Colombo/Apr21/2020)

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