COLOMBO, Feb. 20 (PTI) — The Election Commission of Sri Lanka on Monday informed the Supreme Court that it is difficult to conduct the local polls scheduled for March 9 due to a number of reasons related to the country’s current economic crisis.
Lawyers for the committee made the request, citing the Treasury Department saying it could not release needed funds, demands by government printers to pay in advance for printing ballots and the reluctance of authorities to increase fuel quotas for election work.
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The committee also regrets that they were unable to abide by the court’s earlier assurances that all arrangements would be in place for the election to take place.
The Electoral Commission’s move was linked to a petition filed by opposition parties asking the court to order the vote.
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They claim the delay is an infringement of the public’s right to vote and accuse the government of fearing it could lose the election.
Elections to appoint new administrations for the 340 local councils, which will serve four-year terms, have been postponed since March last year due to the ongoing economic crisis.
The Supreme Court will hear a petition to postpone the February 23 election.
The ruling Sri Lanka People’s Party (SLPP) won a majority in parliament in the last election held in 2018. Parties that have suffered major splits since the economic crisis have been accused of fearing elections and wanting to delay them.
Leaders of the ruling party have been defending the postponement of the vote because the focus must be on economic recovery.
The main opposition SJB held a protest on Monday against the government’s attempt to delay the vote. Police fired tear gas to prevent SJB militants from entering key government institutions such as the presidential secretariat and the finance ministry.
“We took to the streets today to force the government to hold local elections. We will continue our fight,” Sajith Premadasa, the leader of the main opposition party, told protesters.
Sri Lanka will encounter an unprecedented financial crisis in 2022, the worst since independence from the United Kingdom in 1948. Due to a serious shortage of foreign exchange reserves, it has triggered domestic political turmoil and led to the resignation of the full-power Rajapaksa family.
(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from a Syndicated News feed, the content body may not have been modified or edited by LatestLY staff)