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Sri Lanka postpones parliamentary elections amid coronavirus pandemic

The elections have been postponed for nearly two months to June 20

Sri Lanka’s Election Commission has postponed the general elections for nearly two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic which has claimed seven lives and infected 309 people in the island nation. The elections will now happen on June 20. On March 2, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa dissolved the Parliament, six months ahead of schedule and called for snap elections on April 25. A gazette notice on the decision to reschedule the elections was signed by three members of the National Election Commission on April 21, after taking advice from the health and security authorities.

The EC had asked President Rajapaksa to seek the Supreme Court’s opinion on a possible constitutional standoff which would arise due to the postponement of the elections. It also said that if the postponement was considered, it would mean that the Parliament would not be able to meet on June 2, which would be three months since its last meeting on March 2. Mr Rajapaksa replied saying that the Supreme Court’s intervention was not necessary and that it was the job of the election commission to fix a new date for elections. The EC had also met with the government officials earlier to discuss the ongoing pandemic and the flow of elections.

The Sri Lankan government dropped its plan to ease the nationwide curfew on April 20 and has extended it till April 27 following a sudden spike in the number of coronavirus cases in 24 hours. On April 19, the government also announced partial lifts on the curbs to boost economic recovery from April 20. The nation has been under a 24-hour curfew since March 20 in order to fight the virus outbreak.