By Rathindra Kuruwita
The People’s Action For Free & Fair Elections (PAFFREL) will go to Court if the government attempts to postpone polls, its Executive Director, Rohana Hettiarachchi says.Hettiarachchi yesterday said that the Elections Commission had to announce a day for the Local Council elections by the end of the first week of January.
“According to the election laws, and the Constitution, the Commission has to hold elections and gazette the names of those who were elected to the local councils, by 19 March,” he said.
The PAFFREL Executive Director said that it was obvious that the government was trying to postpone elections.
“The government is claiming that the country will be adversely affected if elections are held now. I can’t think how being democratic and transparent would be bad for the country. If anything, the image of the country will improve greatly in the international system,” he maintained.
Hettiarachchi said the Elections Commission has shown interest in holding the election. Already, the Commission has appointed district returning officers and has gazetted their names.
“The Commission has also met the district returning officers. However, we are also seeing the government coming up with various ploys to delay elections. We met Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, two weeks ago, and we told him if you delay elections we will go to Court. The PM said the polls would not be postponed. We will see what the government tries to pull off in the coming weeks,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Executive Director of the Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE), Manas Makeen, said that the Local Council elections must be held in the first quarter of 2023.
“We are opposed to delaying elections and we will work with other election monitors to thwart any attempts to delay elections,” he said.