Did RW make a blind statement on Presidential, Parliamentary Elections?

24 November 2023 08:53 am – 18      – 2211

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COLOMBO (Daily Mirror) – Putting to rest speculation about uncertainty on the conduct of polls pending next year, President Ranil Wickremesinghe announced in Parliament on Wednesday that he would take steps for the conduct of both the Presidential and General Elections next year.

He made such an announcement against the backdrop of the political parties and politically savvy people raising concerns about the possible postponement of elections through legal and constitutional manipulations.

However, Article 31 (3) of the Constitution says (3) ‘The poll for the election of the President shall be taken not less than one month and not more than two months before the expiration of the term of office of the President in office.’

The Presidential Election is due by September or October in terms of the Constitution and therefore there is no requirement for making a fresh announcement. However, the President would have done it because many individuals were casting doubts about the timely conduct of it. In fact, he announced it previously in his address to the convention of his United National Party (UNP).

However, the question still lingers as to whether the President will attempt to postpone the Presidential Election next year through constitutional or legal manipulations.

Nevertheless, the parliamentary election can be called for by him at any time now though it is constitutionally scheduled to be held only in 2025, well after the Presidential Election.

No matter what, the key political parties and individuals harbouring presidential hopes have been expending their energy for some time in anticipation of the elections next year. In addition to the names of President Wickremesinghe, Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) leader Sajith Premadasa, JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake and individuals such as Dhammika Perera have already been floated as prospective candidates.

According to informed sources, the parties have done their own surveys to ascertain public opinion. As things stand at the moment, no party commands the clear-cut majority or 50 per cent mark of votes polled to win the elections. They will do a lot of strategizing in the months to come to fill the gaps needed to cross the mark at the election.

Things are slated to hot up starting from January, next year. In the meantime, Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) is working on its convention scheduled for December 15. It will announce its vision and mission, probably with an indication about its plan for the Presidential Election. Besides, an SLPP group that is fully with the President will launch its political movement in January, next year, targeting the presidential elections.

The SLPP, as a party, has not yet decided to support President Wickremesinghe. It is highly unlikely that it will field its own candidate this time. Its electoral alliance with any prospective candidate will depend on the political outcome to be unfolded in the months to come.