- Denies Govt. attempting to hold elections early
- Claims Opposition falsely accused Govt. to tarnish reputation
- Says not the time to talk about polls, will heed medical experts’ advice
- Questions EC’s impartiality, given member leaking discussions
- Namal says no public gatherings in H’tota until COVID-19 under control
The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) yesterday denied the Government was pushing for early Parliamentary Elections and said it was only focused on containing COVID-19.
The EC on Monday postponed the General Election for nearly two months in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak which led the Government to impose an indefinite island-wide curfew.
Speaking to media, former MP and SLPP senior member Gamini Lokuge said the Government’s only consideration at this point is to bring the country back to normalcy and reopen the country for economic activities in a COVID-19-free environment.
“This is not the time to talk about the election. This is the time to work as a team to combat the virus. We can talk or debate once we overcome this obstacle as one nation. Therefore, I must say the Government is only focusing on containing the deadly virus,” he said.
He noted the Government would only make decisions after consulting health experts and assured that political interests would not be taken into consideration under any circumstance. Lokuge pointed out that the Presidential Task Force on the Prevention of COVID-19 will take the final decision about lifting curfew or any other restriction.
“We are working on providing relief to the public that are affected due to the coronavirus outbreak. The Government has taken several measures at the moment. Rs. 5000 allowance was given to those who lost income and essential food items were delivered to everyone’s doorstep.”
Lokuge charged the Opposition was attempting to tarnish the Government’s reputation with false accusations of pushing the country to hold early elections. According to Lokuge, the Opposition was spreading rumours that the Government was attempting to hold the election although the COVID-19 outbreak was not fully controlled.
“The Opposition does not want an election, they are trying hard to reconvene Parliament, but the President had clearly stated that the Parliament will not be reconvened. Therefore, I can assure the election will be held once COVID-19 is contained,” he added.
Lokuge reiterated that the EC is the only body empowered to take decisions on the election. However, he questioned the impartiality of the EC members, and criticised the behaviour of a member of the commission. “We do not want to interfere with the EC. However, there were several incidents that questioned the impartiality of the commission. A certain member has been leaking information of the EC’s discussions, which we believe should not have happened,” he said.
Meanwhile, former MP Namal Rajapaksa in a Twitter post said no public gatherings would be held in Hambantota without health authorities’ approval.
“Even though the General Election has been declared on 20 June, we will not be holding any physical public gatherings for political campaigning in Hambantota until #SriLanka health authorities give the go-ahead. Let’s #StayHome to help the fight against #COVID19,” he tweeted.