Objections raised to holding polls as restrictions remain

The opposition has raised objections to the holding of Parliamentary elections, at a time when the country was combating the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Samagi Jana Balavegaya and the Tamil National Alliance raised concerns over attempts to hold the election soon.

The General Election was set to be held on 25 April, but was put on hold due to the coronavirus outbreak in Sri Lanka, while a new date to hold the election is yet to be decided.

The Tamil National Alliance says the date of the election should not be fixed until health authorities, local and international, declare Sri Lanka to be safe from the coronavirus.

“There can be no effective exercise of democracy in the form of an election in the midst of a pandemic,” the TNA said in a letter to the National Election Commission (NEC).

Samagi Jana Balavegaya members, former Parliamentarians Ajith P. Perera, Harshana Rajakaruna and Mano Ganesan also voiced their objections on holding the elections, during a press briefing today.

Commenting on Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s request to the National Election Commission to appoint a new date to hold the Parliamentary election, Ajith P Perera said this was not the right time to make such a request and clearly shows the PM’s lack of love and respect for the nation.

Perera further commended the National Election Commission for delaying the Parliamentary elections due to the prevailing health crisis.

At a time like this, it is unreasonable for the PM to request the Election Commission to announce another date to hold the Parliamentary elections, Perera said.

Ajith P. Perera added that he hoped the National Election Commission would take a wise decision on the election, protecting democracy and the rights of the people.

Meanwhile, commenting on suggestions to hold the elections in certain provinces and local government bodies one at a time, former MP Perera said there was no law under the Constitution or Election Law to do so.

The Parliamentary election must be held on one day,  as the convening of Parliament, appointments via the national list and the appointing of a speaker require one day each.

The elections cannot be held  in parts, like the Provincial Council or Local Government Body elections, as our laws do not permit it, Perera explained.

Former MP Ajith P. Perera said that it was not wise to hold an election at a time when the country is facing a health crisis, adding that the people do not want an election at the moment, as they are focussed on recommencing day to day lives.

Frontline workers, such as health workers, Tri-forces personnel as well as the public have obtained a great achievement in the fight against the coronavirus, and the holding of an election will defy their purpose and victory, he said.

Also, sharing his views on the Parliamentary polls, former MP Harshana Rajakaruna said the Opposition had earlier informed the Government that an election was unnecessary and not to dissolve Parliament as its validity remained till August.

Rajakaruna said the National Election Commission is due to convene tomorrow (20), and requested the Commission to take a wise decision on the elections and to issue a Gazette notification for the reconvening of the previous Parliament.

The motive of the Government and the Prime Minister is to hold the Parliamentary elections at any cost, he pointed out.

Meanwhile, former MP Mano Ganesan said he calls on the Government to conduct more testing on coronavirus patients, as well as those who were identified as the 1st, 2nd and 3rd batches to come in direct contact with infected patients.

He said once the testing is conducted then the Government can focus on holding the Parliamentary elections or not. (Colombo Gazette)



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