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Parliamentary General Election on June 20

Chief Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya announcing the postponement of the elections

ECONOMYNEXT- Sri Lanka’s COVID-hit Parliamentary General Election is to be held on June 20, an official statement issued by the Information Department said.

A gazette announcing the decision is expected to be issued later tonight, April 20.

Representatives of all political parties contesting the upcoming Parliamentary General Elections will be meeting with the members of the National Elections Commission tomorrow to discuss the holding of the elections, officials said.

Two representatives of each political party or alliance will meet with the three member Commission headed by Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya.

Prof Ratnajeevan Hoole who was in Jaffna returned to Colombo and was present at a series of consultations that the Commissioners had today.

Officials said that meetings with the Health Authorities had taken up a considerable amount of time today with meetings stretching into the afternoon.

Towards the end of the day the Commissioners met coordinators, these officials said.

With the newly elected Parliament slated to meet on June 2, the possible last date for the poll to be conducted is May 28.

The government has already said that this will be the date, although it is the responsibility of the EC to fix the date.

In postponing the election Chief Elections Commissioner Deshapriya told reporters that the complete breakdown of the government machinery due to the COVID 19 pandemic had thrown the government machinery into disarray and he could not organize and conduct an election under those conditions.

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In fixing the date for the elections the EC would have to certify that conditions are optimal for a free and fair election to be conducted.

He would have to get assurances that the safety conditions for a political campaign where many people gather for rallies are permitted by health regulations.

Also, the EC would need to ensure that the government machinery is working efficiently to make the election happen.

In the meantime, the EC wrote to the President asking him to consult the Supreme Court about making adjustments to the date of the elections because of the threat of the pandemic, but the Secretary to the President dismissed that saying such an opinion was unnecessary.

Only the President is empowered to seek an opinion from the Apex Court for such eventualities. (Colombo, April 20, 2020)

Reported by Arjuna Ranawana

 

 

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