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Monday, March 4, 2024

Sri Lanka postpones local polls amid economic crisis | World News


AFP | , Posted by Shobhit Gupta

Sri LankaThe Independent Electoral Commission postponed local polls indefinitely on Friday after the president refused to fund the votes – appointed by parliament after his predecessor fled last year.

The March 9 poll will only elect local MPs, but it will be the first electoral test Lanier Wickremesinghe Since he took office in July after months of protests over the island’s worst-ever economic crisis.

Many see it as an attempt on his part to secure International Monetary Fund Rescue.

But the five-member electoral commission panel said the vote would not go ahead because Wickremesinghe’s government refused to provide the necessary 10 billion rupees ($27 million) and logistical support.

The announcement came a day after Wickremesinghe warned parliament that holding an election amid the economic crisis could be disastrous.

“If the economy doesn’t develop, we don’t have a country,” he said.

Wickremesinghe, who replaced Gotabaya Rajapaksa After protesters stormed the presidential palace, massive tax and price hikes were enacted to ensure IMF bailout.

Sri Lanka has suffered from severe shortages of essential goods and hyperinflation for more than a year, and defaulted on its foreign debt of $46 billion in April.

Opposition lawmakers have accused the president of using the economic crisis as an excuse to undermine democracy.

Wickremesinghe won a parliamentary vote to replace Rajapaksa with the support of Rajapaksa’s National People’s Party, but without a popular mandate.

In the last local elections in 2018, his UNP won just 10% of the 340 assemblies, while ceding 231 to the BJP.

The IMF previously said its $2.9 billion bailout was contingent on Sri Lanka’s bilateral creditors – the largest of which, China – agreeing to restructure its debt.


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