Sri Lankan Supreme Court dismisses petition to delay presidential election

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Colombo, Jul 8 (PTI) The Sri Lankan Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a petition seeking to delay the presidential election due to happen later this year until a clarification could be made on the presidential term.

A five-member bench dismissed the petition with costs without giving leave to proceed based on arguments by the attorney general.

Last week, an individual filed a fundamental rights petition urging the court to hold back the election until a clarification could be made on an ambiguity in the presidential term concerning Articles 30(2) and 82 in the Constitution.

While Article 30(2) had limited the presidential term to five years from six in terms of the 19th Amendment adopted in 2015, there was no referendum held to change Article 82 which says that a presidential term could be extended up to six years through a referendum. The petitioner therefore sought clarity on the term.

The attorney general argued this morning that there was no ambiguity on the presidential term which is five years.

The election is to take place on a date between September 17 and October 16, the election commission has indicated.

Sri Lanka's election commission on Sunday said that it will announce the date for the next presidential poll before the end of this month.

Election Commission Chairman R M A L Ratnayake said the electoral body would be legally empowered after July 17 to announce the date for the election.

Ratnayake said the commission is currently in the process of putting final touches to the 2024 electoral register which will be the basis for the election. Over 17 million would be eligible to vote in the election as per the revised list, officials said.

The opposition has accused incumbent President Ranil Wickremesinghe of trying to postpone the election and continue his presidency for fear of losing.

Wickremesinghe confirmed last week that the election would be held as planned. PTI CORR GSP AKJ GSP