Colombo, March 19: Sri Lanka’s Elections Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya announced on Thursday that the parliamentary elections which were scheduled to be held on April 25 will be postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. A fresh date for the elections will be notified only after the outbreak is brought under control, he added.
The virus has left 59 people infected so far in Sri Lanka.
“The COVID-19 will decide when we can hold the election again. We must eradicate this disease. I urge everyone to focus and support efforts to eradicate the virus,” Deshapriya stated.
SLPP Was Preparing For Postponement
While President Gotabaya Rajapaksa himself is for having the elections as scheduled and getting a supportive parliament elected in place the dissolved one in which the opposition had the majority, the opposition and the general opinion in the country appeared to be in favor of postponement of the polls due to the public health issue created by the epidemic.
It was reported that many members of the Rajapaksas’ Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) were themselves of the view that the voters might turn against them if elections are held as scheduled. People are coming round to accepting the opposition’s view that government places gaining power over protecting peoples’ lives.
It was also argued that this was the time to postpone the elections because the United National Party (UNP) was ell and truly divided and the division could not be undone. This was because the UNP and the rebel group the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) had filed nominations as separate units. With that any chances of uniting have evaporated.
It was also pointed out that the government has got sufficient funds to run the Establishment and meet the additional expenses incurred due to the battle against COVID-19, without seeking parliamentary approval.
The government had taken Rs.1.24 billion from the Consolidated Fund and China had come up with timely concessional loan of US$ 500 million. These monies would see through the government for a few months.
Thus, with a weakened opposition and money in the kitty, the need for urgent parliamentary elections had been obviated.