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Health guidelines for 2020 general election: Monitors say governing party not following guidelines

By Maheesha Mudugamuwa

Election monitors and opposition political parties are accusing the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) of violating the election-related Covid-19 guidelines issued by the health authorities.

Speaking to The Morning, People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) Executive Director Rohana Hettiarachchi alleged that the meetings conducted by the ruling party under the patronage of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa have been seen not
following the election-related Covid-19 guidelines.

“We have seen all these meetings through the TV that some people are not wearing masks and social distancing is also zero at the meetings. Further, the number of participants are also sometimes more than 100, as stipulated in the guidelines,” he stressed, alleging that the guidelines should be equally applied to all political parties and the ruling party should especially follow those guidelines and be an example to others as well.

“The guidelines have no legal framework and actions can only be taken under the Quarantine Act and therefore, we urged the Government to immediately gazette these guidelines and also to revisit the guidelines before gazetting,” Hettiarachchi noted.

According to him, the health guidelines are not practical.

“Limiting the number of participants to an election rally is not practical and also in a backdrop where the number of participants for a wedding has been increased to 300, the limitation given to political campaigns should be revisited,” he stressed.