By Yohan Perera and Ajith Siriwardana
Political parties, which met the Election Commission Chairman yesterday have expressed mixed reactions to the health guidelines stipulated for the general election to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and on the media coverage given to some of the parties.
Ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), United National Party (UNP) and Samaji Jana Balawegaya (SJB) had welcomed the guidelines and wanted them gazetted soon.
UNP Assistant Leader Ravi Karuanayake said his party had not objected to the health guidelines and said EC Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya had assured of constant checks of the COVID-19 situation.
SJB General Secretary Ranjith Madduma Bandara said he and others wanted the gazette notification pertaining to health guidelines issued without delay.
“SJB and other parties also objected to the manner in which some media institutions were acting and pointed out that some electronic media gave more air time to some political parties and less for others.
Frontline Socialist Party (FSP) Secretary Pubudu Jayagoda said his party objected to some of the health guidelines. “We informed the EC that campaigning by way of advertising in the media and banning of posters is unfair because there are candidates who cannot afford to advertise in the media,” he said.
Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) General Secretary Dayasiri Jayasekara who expressed a different idea said it was better if the general election could be held even a week earlier than the scheduled date as the COVID-19 situation might get worse by August 5. “I personally think the election should be held earlier. But, I do not know the legal provisions for such a move,” he said.
SLPP General Secretary Sagara Kariyawasam said the SLPP was agreeable to holding the election according to the guidelines and recommendations made by the EC.