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Sajith wants Parliament reconvened

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s former Leader of the Opposition is calling on the country’s president to reconvene the recently dissolved parliament to deal with the COVID19 issue.

Sajith Premadasa who now heads an alliance vying for parliamentary power with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s own formation said he was willing to meet with Rajapaksa to come to an agreement to deal with what could become a crisis.

“We will meet with the president and we can discuss what we can do jointly,” he told reporters Friday.

Highly placed Parliament sources said that the out-going Speaker did not have the Constitutional power to reconvene the House. However, the President does have that power if he believes there is a national calamity.

Premadasa’s comments came as supermarkets were being drained of supplies as people stocked up on essentials and petrol stations became jammed with vehicles filling their tanks.

This was despite the country’s Army Commander Gen Shavendra Silva appearing on late-night television newscasts to reassure the country that there is no crisis and no shortage of supplies.

“By doing this, by stocking up you are creating shortages,” he warned.

The government also ordered all schools closed on Thursday as a precautionary measure and health officials advised Sri Lankans to refrain from going on pleasure trips in groups.

Premadasa also faulted the government for not preparing to deal with the coronavirus situation, pointing out to a speech that he made on February 5, calling on the government to make preparations.

Premadasa said many sectors of the country’s economy including export products and the construction industry were badly hit due to imports from China not arriving on time.

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He said there were shortages of drugs in all rural hospitals and although there is no cure yet for COVID19 patients would have to be treated for secondary infections.

Sri Lanka now has two domestically transmitted cases and 64 suspected cases under observation at its premier Infectious Diseases Hospital near Colombo.

The first two confirmed cases are connected to the tourism industry with Patient 1 described as a tour guide. (Colombo, Mar 13, 2020)

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