Opposition contradictions on charges of authoritarian rule, polls and Corona | Daily News


Opposition contradictions on charges of authoritarian rule, polls and Corona

On one hand the leaders of the three main opposition parties accuse President Gotabaya Rajapaksa of taking the country towards authoritarian rule by dissolving Parliament, governing by decree and delaying the convening of Parliament. On the other hand they take the convenience of COVID19 pandemic to call for postponement of the General Election now rescheduled for August 5.

The Presidential Election of November 2019, has given the country a stable, strong and functional Government under Executive President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. However, another prime requirement is to elect a new Parliament as early as possible to ensure the other branch of democratic governance, the August House of people’s representatives is also functional to provide comprehensive stability to the country.

Furthermore, those who accuse President Rajapaksa of taking the country towards militarization should understand that the prime need for a functioning democracy is a stable government with an elected Parliament in addition to the elected Executive President.

After the sudden increase of the number of COVID patients with the detections at the Kandakadu Rehabilitation Centre, the Opposition leaders have renewed their call for postponement of the General Elections. However, President Rajapaksa assured that the challenge of protecting the people until the COVID-19 pandemic is eradicated from the world will be met by controlling the risk of spread of the virus from time to time. Hence, it is the duty of all democratic people to extend support to the President for the steps taken to control the pandemic and cooperate with the Elections Commission to hold the polls as scheduled.

UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe
SJB Leader 
Sajith Premadasa
JVP Leader 
Anura Kumara Dissanayake

The President, addressing the meeting of the Presidential Task Force established to combat COVID19 held on Tuesday (July 14) to review the current situation that has arisen following the emergence of a new cluster of COVID 19 infected persons at Kandakadu Rehabilitation Centre, has assured the nation that the Government was fully prepared to meet the challenge.

Without directly referring to the fight against terrorism and other victories, the President said, “There were numerous challenges. These challenges were conquered one by one with the implementation of comprehensive strategies. At that time, quarantine centers were something unheard of. The concept was introduced by us. Many people today have forgotten this.’’

The Presidential Task Force was established on January 26 comprising the health sector, including doctors, the military, Intelligence units and the police. President Rajapaksa recalled the effective measures taken by the Government ahead of many countries since the launch of the mission to evacuate the stranded students in Wuhan, China.

President Rajapaksa’s assurance about meeting the COVID-19 challenge is also an indirect assurance to the Elections Commission regarding the conducive condition for holding of General Elections on schedule. Despite that assertion by the President, main opposition parties continue with their call for postponement of the franchise.

The right to vote is a fundamental right of the people and any Government must take every possible step to hold elections on time. The leaders of United National Party (UNP), Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) and Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) have forgotten very conveniently that the Presidential Election and General Elections of 1989 were held despite the major threats of terrorism by the JVP in the South and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the North and the East.

While calling for postponement of elections, the Opposition levels allegations against the President that his strategy is to govern the country with the assistance from former and current officers of the Armed Forces to establish a military rule, ignoring the will of the people. If there is such an intention, would the President give such assurance to the country that government was confident of containing the spread of COVID19 and pave way for holding of General Elections to elect a new Parliament? There are no answers from the UNP, SJB and JVP to such questions.

The Parliament was dissolved on the first constitutionally possible day – March 2, 2020 – by the President as the 2015 Parliament had lost its mandate because of the huge mandate he received from the people at the Presidential Election of November 16, 2019. Furthermore, calling for fresh elections to elect a new Parliament was in fact giving an opportunity to the people to elect their representatives to govern the country.

Displaying the commitment of the Government to protect the people, the President said at the meeting of the Task Force that guidance by the Government in decision making and securing assistance of all the stakeholders was instrumental in overcoming the challenge. A total of 16,279 people from 74 countries were brought back to the Motherland and following the completion of the quarantine process they were sent back to their homes. The President also recalled the service rendered by maintaining 70 quarantine centers.

“Residents of the locality protested when quarantine centers were being established. Initially, protests were staged when the arrivals from countries such as Italy and South Korea were accompanied to the quarantine centres. The Government will ensure the protection of its citizens in the future as well. Obstacles will not compromise the responsibilities of the government,” the President emphasized.

Those who were in close contact with the identified COVID 19 infected persons at the Kandakadu Rehabilitation Centre had been directed to the quarantine process. In addition, others who were in contact with the infected indirectly have been diverted to self-isolation. The President stated that as the Government was successful in overcoming the crisis before, plans have been set in motion to address the impending issues as well.

President Rajapaksa instructed officials to continue the PCR tests in order to minimize the spread of the virus. He also instructed them to update the public about the pandemic regularly along with the plans devised by the Government to control it.

In parallel to the discussions to curb the COVID 19 pandemic, the need for expanding the rehabilitation programmes for drug addicts was also reviewed in depth. President Rajapaksa emphasized that he holds everyone who stands vigilant and perseveres tirelessly both day and night to curb the COVID 19 pandemic, in high esteem.

The UNP, SJB and JVP must act now as a responsible Opposition and cooperate with the Government and health authorities as well as the Election Commission to ensure conduct of a smooth General Election so that a new Parliament could be elected, in which they could play the role of a responsible Opposition to offer constructive criticism and attempt to correct erroneous steps of the Government, if any. Instead, they seem to be happy to play negative politics and create panic among the people.

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