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LG Polls, Sri Lanka: CPA goes to SC; ‘Govt says IMF prohibits LG polls’; Monks want ’’Sanga Order’’ against Govt

Fundamental Rights application challenging the failure to take the necessary steps to hold the Local Government Elections.

28th February 2023. The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) and its Executive Director filed a Fundamental Rights application challenging the failure and/or refusal of several government departments to take the necessary steps to hold the Local Government Elections. CPA is a constituent member and acts as the secretariat to the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV).

Elections to elect persons as members of Local Authorities in Sri Lanka are required to be held every 04 years (48 months) in terms of the relevant statutes. Elections were previously held in 2018, and the term of the Local Authorities that were due to expire in 2022 were extended for a year thereafter, and their term will expire shortly, with no further option available in law for extension.

On 30th January 2023, it was announced that the poll for Local Authorities Elections would be held on 09th March 2023. However, on 13th February 2023, the Elections Commission announced that it had been informed by the Government Printer that it would not be able to print the ballots necessary for the postal voting, if funds were not provided. It has also been reported that the Government Printer had stated that they cannot print the required ballot papers due to lack of Police security.

The Petitioners stated that the conduct of the Government Printer and the Inspector General of Police are indicative of a coordinated campaign to procrastinate the holding of Local Authority elections. The Petitioners also stated that the President, in his capacity as the Minister of Finance, and the Secretary to the Treasury have not, until the very last minute on the 23rd February 2023 indicated that there is a challenge in the allocation of funds to conduct the elections. These actions are prejudicial to the fundamental rights of the Petitioners and citizens of Sri Lanka.

Samagi Jana Balawegaya MP Dr. Harsha de Silva has dismissed claims made by the President that the government can’t afford to hold elections in view of IMF recommendations.

The SJB MP said that not only the President but also senior government ministers insisted that the money for elections could not be allocated because they could no longer print money or borrow.

“This is just absurd. Nowhere in the world has a government said it can’t hold elections because it is following IMF recommendations. We have a right to vote. Our franchise takes precedence over everything else,” he said.

Commenting on the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations request that the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government hold a “free and fair” local authorities’ election without further delay, Dr. de Silva said that Sri Lanka did not have to wait until the IMF or anyone else asked it to hold an election.

“However, this proves that the government is lying. The United States is the largest shareholder of the IMF. US undersecretary of state for political affairs, Victoria Nuland previously asked the President to hold elections. Now the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations has made a similar request. If anything, we need the US support to get IMF money. Given that the government has no other plan but to get the IMF money, I think this is important,” he said.

The Petitioners have emphasized that the exercise of franchise as required in terms of the law is essential for a country to be a democracy, and the conduct of elections must be treated as an essential, for Sri Lanka to be and remain a democratic republic.

Mahanayake Theras urged to issue ’’Sanga Order’’ against Govt.

The National Bikkhu Front (NBF) today requested the Mahanayake Theras to issue a “Sanga Order” to force the government to hold the Local Government election, which was postponed indefinitely, at a closer date convenient to the Elections Commission.

NBF Secretary Ven. Vakamulle Uditha Thera told reporters that they paid a visit to the Mahanayake Theras today and handed over a four-point letter.
The prelate said they brought to the notice of the Mahanayake Theras about the undemocratic and dictatorial actions of the government and indefinite postponement of the LG polls and suppressing people’s protests to win their democratic right.

Ven. Uditha Thera said as the first demand, they requested the Chief Prelates to convene Karaka Sangha Sabha of the three Chapters and take an immediate decision against the government’s undemocratic, suppressive actions and moves to postpone elections.

The Thera said they also requested the Mahanayake Theras to convene provincial and divisional level Nayake theras of the three chapters including other Bikkhus and hold a Sanga convention.

“We also urged the Nayaka Theras to issue a “Sanga Order” to the government to hold the indefinitely postponed LG polls at a closer date convenient to the elections commission. And reveal what action people should take against the government, if the government fails to adhere to the order of the Maha Nayake Theras, ” the Thera said.(Ajith Siriwardana) DM

Government can’t afford to hold elections in view of IMF recommendations?

Samagi Jana Balawegaya MP Dr. Harsha de Silva has dismissed claims made by the President that the government can’t afford to hold elections in view of IMF recommendations.

The SJB MP said that not only the President but also senior government ministers insisted that the money for elections could not be allocated because they could no longer print money or borrow.

“This is just absurd. Nowhere in the world has a government said it can’t hold elections because it is following IMF recommendations. We have a right to vote. Our franchise takes precedence over everything else,” he said.

Commenting on the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations request that the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government hold a “free and fair” local authorities’ election without further delay, Dr. de Silva said that Sri Lanka did not have to wait until the IMF or anyone else asked it to hold an election.

“However, this proves that the government is lying. The United States is the largest shareholder of the IMF. US undersecretary of state for political affairs, Victoria Nuland previously asked the President to hold elections. Now the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations has made a similar request. If anything, we need the US support to get IMF money. Given that the government has no other plan but to get the IMF money, I think this is important,” he said.

IS

 

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