Sri Lanka postpones crucial national elections by a year

Sri Lanka has postponed her crucial national elections by one year amidst a worsening economic crisis, protests by farmers and rising cost of living expenses, officials said on Tuesday.

In concrete terms, this means that the terms of 8,327 members elected to 340 local councils countrywide have been extended by one year.

The four-year term of the local councils which included Municipal Councils, Urban Councils and Village Councils were due to end on March 18.

The elections would have been the first national poll after Gotabaya Rajapaksa was elected as Sri Lanka’s president in 2019 and the first since his party won the parliamentary elections in August 2020.

Had they gone ahead as scheduled, the elections would have been an acid test for the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Party (Peoples’ Party).

Government members have defended the extension of the term, claiming that development activities to be carried out by the Councils were held up due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

He added that councils needed time to complete projects.

But the opposition claims that the current financial crisis in the country due to a lack of U.S. dollars to pay for imports and a lack of fertiliser for farmers and fuel shortages were among the reasons behind the postponement.

“The government is not in a position to face elections with the adverse economic situation and the rising cost of living,” opposition member of Parliament Mujibar Rahaman said.

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