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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Consider the safety of 200,000 state employees who will be doing the election duty; 21 TUs tell EC

Mr. Mahinda Deshapriya, Chairman, Election Commission.

Mr. Chairman,

On holding the general election.

Once again, there is talk of holding the general election in Sri Lanka at the time the COVID-19 has become a pandemic. The media has reported that the Elections Commission will meet on the 20th to discuss this matter.

The health sector has so far not confirmed that COVID-19 risk in Sri Lanka has subsided. Health officials have confirmed that a few quarantined persons too have been infected by the coronavirus. Even in China and South Korea, some of the persons infected and cured have been infected again. So the pandemic is still far from over. In this context, the circumstances that led to the postponement of the election by the Election Commission have not yet been changed for better.

It is the responsibility of the Election Commission to look into the safety of over 200,000 public servants who will be engaged in election duties if the elections take place. One of the main duties of election officials is to check the National Identity Card and colour the fingers during the election process.

A large number of overseas Sri Lankans came to Sri Lanka in order to vote the last presidential election. The presence of foreign observers at elections in Sri Lanka also takes place. Given the global epidemic, the arrival of Sri Lankan expatriates to vote in Sri Lanka, as well as the presence of foreign observers, could be problematic.

And, given the prevailing situation, voter turnout may be in doubt. It is inevitable that people will come together in small groups during the general elections period. It is customary for government officials to attend a number of sessions on the conduct of the elections and doing so in such a situation could pose problems for their safety.

In particular, the health sector has not ruled out the risk of an epidemic rising again due to the lack of attention in controlling the virus, especially in the wake of the general election.

In this context what our trade unions, representing the public sector employees, clearly request is to pay serious attention to the above-mentioned facts when making a decision on the safety of the officers who will be engaged in election duties and the rights of the voting public.

(This is a translation of a statement issued by 21 Trade Unions.)


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