Sri Lanka puts off election due to coronavirus
Buddhist devotees wearing facemasks amid concerns over the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus pray at the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic in Kandy, Sri Lanka. AFP
Sri Lanka has indefinitely postponed parliamentary elections that were scheduled for next month to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.
"Even if the WHO says Sri Lanka is free of this virus tomorrow, we will not be able to conduct the election on April 25," election chief Mahinda Deshapriya said Thursday. "Whether we can have the vote in May, June or July will depend on how quickly the virus can be tackled."
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had been hoping the elections would give his party a two-thirds majority in parliament, allowing it to change the constitution and secure him wider powers.
Sri Lanka has 53 cases of the virus. This week the country closed its international airports and placed an area home to 850,000 people under curfew.