The presidential elections in Sri Lanka would be held between November 15 and December 7, Election Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya has said, clarifying that according to constitutional provisions the polls must be held one month before the end of the current president’s term.
Deshapriya’s clarification on the constitutional provisions regarding the date for the next presidential elections came after President Maithripala Sirisena told presspersons last week in New Delhi that the presidential polls are likely to take place on December 7. President Sirisena’s five-year term is scheduled to end on January 8, 2020.
“The election must be held one month before the end of the current president’s term,” Deshapriya said, addressing the Voters’ Day events held at the south Colombo suburb of Moratuwa on Saturday.
“The nearest date the election can be held is November 15 as November 10 is a Sunday and November 12 is a Poya Day (a Buddhist holy day). December 7 is the furthest day the election can be held,” Deshapriya said, adding the Election Commission would be permitted to hold the election on any day between November 15 and December 7.
Sirisena was elected for a five year-term on January 8, 2015 when he challenged the incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa. The former strongman had called snap elections two years ahead of the end of his second term.
Sirisena backed by the then main Opposition United National Party (UNP) became the common Opposition candidate against his former boss Rajapaksa.
Although Sirisena has not so far declared his intention for a re-run, his souring of relationships with the UNP of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has indicated that the UNP would be fielding its own candidate.
Sirisena in October last year sacked Wickremesinghe, who elevated him to the presidency, and replaced him with Rajapaksa. The move led to a constitutional impasse, which lasted over 50 days. After the intervention by the Supreme Court, Wickremesinghe was restored as the prime minister.
Sirisena speaking to presspersons in New Delhi after attending Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s swearing-in ceremony, said he had not decided on seeking another term in the election that is due by the year-end. “I am not in a hurry to decide whether to stand,” Sirisena said. Sirisena has faced criticism over his leadership after a series of suicide bombings killed 258 people in the island nation on April 21.