Controversy swirls around efforts to defer presidential poll

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Controversy swirls in political circles about reports on President Maithripala Sirisena’s move to seek an advisory opinion from the Supreme Court (SC) in terms of Article 129 whether he could serve in office till June 20, 2020, thereby postponing the presidential election otherwise scheduled for later this year.

Article 129 of the Constitution says: “If at any time it appears to the President of the Republic that a question of law or fact has arisen or is likely to arise which is of such nature and of such public importance that it is expedient to obtain the opinion of the Supreme Court upon it, he may refer that question to that court for consideration and the court may, after such hearing as it thinks fit, within the period specified in such reference or within such time as may be extended by the President, report to the President its opinion thereon.”

According to reports, the Attorney General’s Department has finished the paperwork for the President to make a reference to the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) Chairman Prof. G.L. Peiris said yesterday his party would make every possible attempt to thwart the move by the President to postpone the presidential election.

“The first indication about the President’s planned move surfaced when former Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara remarked about it at a press conference held on April 8,” he said.

Prof. Peiris quoted Mr Jayasekara as having said that it would be done after the new Chief Justice was sworn in. He said the SLPP would create strong public opinion against any such move to postpone the election.

Elections Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya earlier said he would call for nominations for the presidential election after October 15 and that the polls would be held on a date between November 15 and December 7.