The Election Commission in Sri Lanka gave a big relief to the President by postponing the local elections

Pankaj Prasad
Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe
Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe

Voting for the local elections was scheduled to be held on March 9.

The Election Commission of Sri Lanka has given a big relief to President Ranil Wickremesinghe. It has refused to hold local elections on time. The commission told Sri Lanka's Supreme Court on Monday that it was not in a position to hold the polls on the scheduled date. This has given Wickremesinghe more time to implement economic reforms as per the terms of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).ย  ย ย 

The general opinion was that Wickremesinghe's party would be badly defeated in the local elections. After such election results, there would have been a deep hole in the credibility of the President. By the way, many analysts are of the opinion that it will still prove very difficult for the Wickremesinghe government to implement strict economic measures amid public anger in the country. Sometime back, the government had increased the rate of personal income tax to 36 per cent. Apart from this, there was an unprecedented increase in electricity charges. Wickremesinghe's popularity declined further after these two moves.

Voting for the local elections was scheduled to be held on March 9. But now the Election Commission has told the Supreme Court that it does not have the necessary funds to conduct the polls. Due to lack of money, the commission has not been able to get the ballot papers printed. For this election, Wickremesinghe's United National Party (UNP) formed an alliance with the Sri Lanka Podujana Peremuna (SLPP) led by former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. The Rajapaksa family is also the target of constant public anger in the country. That's why the defeat of this alliance was being considered fixed.

Political analyst Kusal Perera has told the website economynext.com- 'Opposition parties were trying to take advantage of the anti-Rajapaksa sentiment. They also wanted to show that the mandate is not with the present government. People have to struggle in their life at this time. By the way, there was no possibility of change in policies from this election.

Wickremesinghe had indicated last week that elections would be held next year after the economy recovers. At a gathering on Saturday, he said that once the economy recovers, the country will be in a position to decide through ballots what kind of future it wants. It is alleged that the Election Commission has taken the decision according to the intention of the President. Advocate Migara Dos has said- 'This step is against the constitution. The President cannot take away the right of the people to vote. The Election Commission is an independent body. It is his duty to seek funds from the Ministry of Finance to conduct elections and to pressurize the government to print ballot papers. But it seems that the commission has come under pressure from the government.

Meanwhile, anti-government protests are continuing in different parts of the country. Opposition parties, trade unions and banking sector employees are protesting on a daily basis. On Monday, police fired tear gas and water cannons at a demonstration by the main opposition party Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB).