Presidential election crucial for Sri Lanka's future: Prez Wickremesinghe

Last month, Sri Lanka's Election Commission said the presidential election would be conducted between September 17 and October 16.
Last Updated : 12 June 2024, 10:41 IST

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Colombo: Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe has said that the presidential elections scheduled to be held later this year will determine the island nation's success and failure rather than the individual triumphs or losses, according to a media report on Wednesday.

Last month, Sri Lanka's Election Commission said the presidential election would be conducted between September 17 and October 16.

Addressing a policy reform discussion on Tuesday, Wickremesinghe, 75, said, "The outcome of the upcoming election is not solely about my personal victory or defeat; it will determine whether the country succeeds or fails". Wickremesinghe, who has been serving the balance term of the ousted president Gotabaya Rajapaksa since mid-July 2022, hasn’t made any public statement on his bid for re-election.

"This election isn’t merely about selecting individuals but about choosing the most effective system for our country’s progress. If you believe in the merits of the current approach, let us proceed accordingly", the President's Media Division quoted him as saying.

Wickremesinghe also underscored the importance of implementing robust economic reforms to ensure long-term prosperity in the cash-strapped country, the Daily Mirror newspaper reported.

The government under Wickremesinghe has set in place hard economic reforms as dictated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme.

Wickremesinghe, also the finance minister, is intent on incorporating the reforms in the fiscal laws of the island by introducing the economic transformation bill, which is to be introduced in Parliament after the current review process by the Supreme Court on its constitutionality.

During the discussion, Wickremesinghe said that people can support the government's economic programme if they are satisfied with it, cautioning that otherwise, they will face the consequences of living in a country with a collapsed economy, struggling to supply essential items like medicines and fertiliser, and experience long queues for fuel and gas.

In April 2022, Sri Lanka declared its first-ever sovereign default since gaining independence from Britain in 1948.

Wickremesinghe ended queues for essentials, shortages, and long hours of power cuts and obtained a bailout from the IMF, the process for which was started during the last days of Rajapaksa.

The president also emphasised the need to avoid past mistakes by making decisions during elections, focusing on individuals.

Meanwhile, former president Mahinda Rajapaksa issued a harsh warning on Tuesday, asserting that postponing the elections would end the United National Party (UNP) headed by Wickremesinghe, which had proposed postponing both presidential and general elections.

Expressing his disbelief about election delay talks, Rajapaksa called it "silly" and predicted dire consequences for the UNP, the News First web portal reported.

On May 28, the UNP suggested holding a referendum to postpone both presidential and general elections and extending the terms of both offices for two years to pursue much-needed economic reforms.

The proposal was immediately criticised by the opposition parties as unconstitutional.

The Election Commission also expressed dismay over any attempts to delay the upcoming Presidential and Parliamentary elections, insisting they proceed as scheduled.

Incidentally, Wickremesinghe had reiterated his intention to hold the next presidential election this year ahead of the parliamentary election.

Published 12 June 2024, 10:41 IST

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