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Rajapaksa confirms Sri Lanka’s elections will go ahead despite coronavirus troubles

Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa told South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) leaders today that “the elections will be held as planned”.

The Parliamentary election scheduled for April will go ahead amid concerns of the increasing numbers of COVID-19 coronavirus cases on the island.

Rajapaksa briefed measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus to SAARC leaders; he engaged in a video conference with other SAARC leaders and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi where they discussed strategies to combat the threat.

The government’s handling of the coronavirus threat so far has been heavily criticised, with quarantine centres established in the North-East said to “create fear among the people”.  

Rajapaksa has cancelled sporting events and public meetings, while also discouraging large gatherings for elections.

He also highlighted the severe economic blow Sri Lanka has endured as a result of the coronavirus and has urged for the help of SAARC leaders to find a mechanism to combat the problems inflicted by the coronavirus and even proposed a SAARC ministerial-level group to assist with the process.

Rajapaksa pushed for the early dissolution of the parliament which conveniently falls the first anniversary of the Easter Sunday bombings and is insistent in ensuring the elections are not postponed.

Current Sri Lankan prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa will lead a newly formed coalition between the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), which is expected to sweep the polls. A two-thirds majority in parliament will allow the Rajapaksa's to implement constitutional changes to increase presidential powers and influence. 

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