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Can easily defeat opposition if it stays united: Mahinda

March 14, 2020 12:31 PM

COLOMBO:Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has said that the country's main opposition could be defeated if they stuck together instead of contesting the April 25 general election separately.

"The opposition is scattered today. I think it is in our favour if they stick together instead of contesting separately. That way, we can defeat them as a whole," the Daily Mirror reported on Saturday citing Rajapaksa as saying.

Speaking at a book launch, Rajapaksa said they were confident of securing a clear victory.

But in a statement on Friday, former United National Party (UNP) MP Arjuna Ranatunga said that the government should think of preventing the spread of the coronavirus in the island nation rather than thinking of politics and the upcoming elections.

"This is not the time to hold election rallies, which are usually attended by large crowds and it is also not advisable to carry out house to house campaigning. The country will suffer a bigger disaster than from the war if this crisis situation is not properly handled," the Daily Mirror quoted Ranatunga as saying.

"Election is not important at this moment. Polls can be held any time. We in the opposition are ready to support any measures adopted by the government to stop the spread of the virus."

He also said the steps taken by the government to prevent the spread of the disease were unsatisfactory.

Ranatunga's comments come on the same day the country confirmed that there were five confirmed coronavirus cases.

Also on Friday, Sri Lanka's National Elections Commission (EC) said that was continuing with its preparations for the April 25 parliamentary polls despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Commission member S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole told the Daily Mirror on Friday that the election schedule is based on the Parliamentary Elections Act and the date was set in motion by a presidential proclamation.

"To postpone the election, only the President can act by revoking his proclamation and issuing a new one," Hoole said.

Until such a proclamation is issued, the Commission said it will go ahead with its plans to hold the polls on April 25.

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