The Sri Lankan government's printer Gangani Liyanage on Thursday made written requests to both the Treasury Secretary and police chief to hold the much-delayed local council elections now scheduled for April 25.
Liyanage's office said the printer in her letter to K M Mahinda Siriwardana, the Secretary to the Treasury, asked for money -- a shortage of which caused the postponement of the election originally scheduled for March 9.
Her inability to print the ballot papers to conduct the postal voting from February 21 to 24 had earlier caused the Elections Commission to postpone the elections.
Liyanage said that by the time the elections were postponed, she had only received Rs 40 million out of the estimated full cost of Rs 500 million.
In her letter to police chief C.D. Wickramaratne, she asked for the deployment of over 60 police for providing protection to the government printer's premises.
With the government printer's inability to print the ballot papers, the main opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) party, filing a case in the Supreme Court for intervention, accused President Ranil Wickremesinghe-led government of running scared of the poll and subverting democracy for political advantage.
The highest court issued a directive to the treasury that the conduct of the poll should not be hindered.
Following the court order, the election date was fixed for April 25 with postal voting to be conducted between March 18 and 21.
As many as 340 local councils are to be appointed for a four-year term.
The election has been postponed since March last year when the country plunged into a severe economic crisis, leading to the ouster of the powerful Rajapaksa family from the politics of the country.
The Wickremesinghe-led government had earlier in an effort to stop the elections blocked allocated funds, thus halting the printing of ballot papers.
While electoral defeat in the local government polls will not immediately undermine the Wickremesinghe-Sri Lankan Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) government, it fears that the result will deepen political instability and undermine its negotiations for a USD 2.9 billion emergency bailout loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
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