Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa today requested the Elections Commission to fix another day for the holding of the parliamentary poll saying the EC should first fulfill its duties and thereafter take up for discussion any outstanding issues.
In a statement , the Prime Minister said that under Section 24(3) of the Parliamentary Elections Act No: 1 of 1981, when the poll cannot be held on the day fixed by the President, the Elections Commission is mandatorily required to fix another day for the poll.
“ They (EC) have no power to postpone the poll without fixing another date. Such mandatory legal requirements cannot be ignored on the basis of speculation as to what may or may not happen weeks and months into the future. The Elections Commission should first fulfill its duties under Section 24(3) and thereafter take up for discussion any outstanding issues,” the PM said.
The statement added that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa dissolved Parliament on 2 March and fixed 25 April for the poll and 14 May for the first meeting of the new Parliament and 10 days later, when the first Corona virus patient was found, the President did not have the power to postpone the poll.
The general election fixed for 25 April was postponed by the EC on 19 March citing the public health emergency in the country caused by the spread of the corona virus.
The Prime Minister also accused the former Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa of having tried to sabotage the anti-corona virus campaign at the very outset by personally, encouraging protests against the quarantine process and of trying to undermine government services including the health service with the argument that the President had no power to allocate funds for government services after the dissolution of Parliament. “Now they say that the Gazette dissolving Parliament should be rescinded the as the new parliament has to meet before 2 June, and the parliamentary election cannot be held before that.”
He also accused the previous administration of delaying local government elections by nearly three years and of changing the provincial councils’ elections system to prevent elections from taking place . “The present scramble to have the parliamentary elections put off is a continuation of that deplorable past," the PM said.
He added that things have to come back to normal sooner or later adding that in eleven of the 25 administrative districts, there have been no corona virus patients at all while in another seven districts, there have been only one or two patients, and five to seven patients in two more districts with only five districts have a high incidence of corona virus patients.
The Prime Minister also added that after r the first Corona virus patient was discovered on 11 March, the government introduced a raft of measures to control the disease including early detection, isolation and treatment of patients, quarantine for those exposed to risk, the tracing of patients’ contacts and social distancing measures. “An operation like this has not been seen in our lifetimes. Curfews lasting for weeks on end had to be imposed to prevent the spread of the disease. People unable to go out of their homes had to be supplied with essentials like foodstuffs, medicines, and even cash throughout the country. Aid had to be provided to low income earners. The produce of paddy and vegetable farmers and fishermen had to be bought to keep the production process going. The fact that all these tasks were dealt with simultaneously at short notice is nothing less than a managerial miracle. Today, the whole world acknowledges Sri Lanka’s success in containing the corona virus pandemic,” the statement said.