Sri Lanka’s independent elections commission on Wednesday said that it cannot hold parliamentary elections on June 20 as planned because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Saliya Peiris, a lawyer representing the commission, told the Supreme Court that the elections can only be held 10 weeks after health authorities declare conditions are safe.
Several former lawmakers and civil groups had complained to the court that their fundamental rights were breached by the commission’s earlier decision to hold the election on June 20.
The election was originally set for April 25 but the commission rescheduled it for June. Peiris said the commission chose that date expecting the country’s lockdown would be lifted by the end of this month.
Earlier in the month, the Sri Lankan government aimed at total relaxation of the curfew restrictions imposed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The President Gotabaya Rajapaksa expressed these views during a meeting with the members of the newly-appointed Task Force held at the Presidential Secretariat and later discussed modalities relating to the resumption of civilian life and work from May 11.
Parliament’s term was to end in September but the president has the power to dissolve it six months ahead of schedule, and also to reconvene it in an emergency.
The government imposed curfew restrictions in March after the corona cases escalated.
The first Sri Lankan national infected with the disease was reported on March 11.
Sri Lanka has reported 1,027 coronavirus cases including nine deaths. The court was told that candidates campaign mostly through public meetings and canvassing door-to-door, methods that are not conducive for social distancing.