Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on April 30 declined a request from opposition parties to convene the dissolved Parliament remarking that the opposition was trying to make political gains at the time of a pandemic. Sri Laka has till now reported a total of 671 cases and seven deaths.
On March 2, Rajapaksha had dissolved the country's parliament, six-months ahead of schedule. He had then called for a snap election on April 25 to elect a new 225 member house. However, election commission in mid-April postponed the elections and scheduled it to take place on June 20 owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. Following which, on April 27, the country’s opposite parties urged Rajapaksha to summon the dissolved parliament while pledging cooperation to tackle the pandemic.
"We urge the president to respond positively to this offer of responsible cooperation by us at this critical time and revoke the proclamation dated 2 March 2020 dissolving parliament so that all of us can jointly fight to eradicate this virus," said a joint statement issued by the opposition parties.
However, a press statement released later by the Sri Lankan leader stated that he had rejected the opposition's call to reconvene the house claiming that they were trying to make political gains. The opposition consisted of seven parties including United National Party (UNP) leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leader R Sampanthan, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress leader Rauff Hakeem, Tamil Progressive Alliance (TPA) leader Mano Ganesan, All Ceylon Makkal Congress leader Rishard Bathuideen, Jathika Hela Urumaya's (JHU) Patali Champika Ranawaka and former Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa.
In other news, the Sri Lankan government, in a bid to stem the spread of the coronavirus infection, stopped all passenger flights and ships entering the nation on March 18. Till then, 71,370 tourists had already visited the island nation, Sri Lankan media reported quoting Sir Lanka Tourist Development Authority’s Tourist Arrival reports, for March 2020. However, in comparison, the country had received 2,44,328 tourists in 2019.
(With inputs from PTI/Image credits: AP)