Running a democracy without a parliament

Sandaruwan Silva | Author . පරිවර්තනය කරන්න සිංහල හෝ தமிழ் 6/17/2020 10:42:00 AM
Running a democracy without a parliament

When President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was elected to the office in November last year, when there was no COVID-19 threat prevalent, he made it clear that he would dissolve the parliament at the earliest opportunity available to make way for a government which will implement his policies.

Keeping to his word, the President dissolved the parliament with effect from the midnight if March 2nd of 2020 and summoned the new parliament to meet on May 14th of 2020. Still, no considerable COVID-19 threat in the country but the virus was spreading across the world.

On March 11, the first Sri Lankan to contract the virus in the country was reported changing everything including the scheduled election in the country.

As more positive cases were reported, the election which was scheduled by the Elections Commison to be held in late April, was postponed to June. 

More cases were reported, the Opposition parties demanded the old parliament be reconvened. President Rajapaksa held his ground and simply said, "No."

The President was adamant of going ahead with a new parliament while the opposition parties were adamant of reconvening the old parliament to address the issues faced by the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

They went to the Supreme Court, the opposition parties, against the scheduled parliamentary election. They wanted the old parliament back and not an election amidst a fast spreading virus which has no cure. 

Meanwhile, the President and the Government with a limited Cabinet was handling the situation. The key players of the battle against the virus were health officials and the military followed by the police.

President entrusted the military to take care of the situation and mitigate the virus spread on the instructions of health officials. 

He appointed task forces, a several of them, to address issues faced by the public.

The Supreme Court meanwhile decided not to hear the petitions against the election. The election was back on the table and the Election Commison declared August 5 as the new date for the poll.

Since Late March upto early May, there is no parliament in the country. Pros; no hefty expenditures to maintain 225 MPs. Cons; after all, we are a democracy and now the legislature is out of the picture for four months amidst a crisis.