Did The President of Sri Lanka Say That No Election Will Be Held Until the End of the IMF Program? Find out the facts…

Missing Context Political

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As Sri Lanka prepares for major elections, an unsettling atmosphere prevails as misinformation proliferates across social media platforms. This influx of false information has created seeds of doubt in the general public, casting suspicion on the legitimacy of the impending electoral process and even raising questions about whether the elections will take place at all. 

Against this backdrop, a purported statement linked to President Ranil Wickremasinghe went viral, creating further doubts over the possibility of elections. Let’s look at the claim first.

Social Media Posts 

Social media posts alleged that the President of Sri Lanka, Ranil Wickremesinghe, stated that there would be no elections in Sri Lanka until the completion of the economic reform program initiated with the help of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Facebook | Archived 

These posts were widely shared on WhatsApp, too.

We decided to do a fact-check on this. 


Source of the Claim: The claim originated from a headline in the Sinhala weekend newspaper “Silumina” on March 31st. The newspaper’s front page reported that the President stated to the Election Commission and Cabinet Ministers that no election would be held until the conclusion of the IMF reforms program. However, in the newspaper’s inside story, the report states that the President claimed the IMF program is expected to end by July of this year. Hence, there would not be any issue in conducting the elections thereafter. The article can be read here. Archived 

Yet most social media and even some mainstream media streams only shared the text displayed on the newspaper’s front page, as seen here, highlighting the point that no elections are expected until the IMF reforms are completed.

Investigation of the Claim: When we contacted Election Commissioner General Saman Sri Rathnayake, he denied the claim’s authenticity. Rathnayake stated that the President had not made any such statement regarding IMF-related matters to the Election Commission. This refutes the claim made in the Silumina newspaper.

Constitutional Obligations and Electoral Schedule: The constitution mandates that presidential elections need to be held at least in September and 2024. Similarly, the Parliamentary polls need to be completed in the middle of the following year; however, the Constitution allows for the summoning of elections before these mandatory periods if necessary.

Also, in response to concerns over the funds allocations for the presidential election, the Election commissioner has stated that Rupee 10 billion has been allocated for this year’s elections from last year’s budget, and all necessary steps are in place to hold the election this year. A recent  conversation between the election commissioner and a YouTube channel regarding the elections can be reached here 

Relevance of IMF Program to Elections: While economic reforms, including those supported by the IMF, may have implications for the country’s political landscape, there is no direct connection between the completion of an IMF program and the scheduling of elections. Presidential and parliamentary elections are governed by constitutional mandates and electoral procedures, which are separate from economic reform programs.

Clarifications from PMD: Allegations stating that the government is trying to delay the elections have been spreading for months. A couple of months ago, the President’s Media Division(PMD) released a special statement that the impending presidential and parliamentary elections would be held at a suitable time without any delay. 

A few days ago, on March 27, they published a statement by Minister Vajira Abeywardena, considered one of the president’s closest allies. In this statement, Wajira said there were no preparations to postpone elections and that rumours of election delay were false.

Implications of False Information: Spreading false information about the postponement of elections can lead to confusion and undermine public trust in democratic processes. It is crucial to verify such claims through reliable sources and factual evidence.

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In conclusion, the claim that President Ranil Wickremesinghe announced the postponement of elections in Sri Lanka until the completion of an IMF reform program is false. The Election Commissioner has refuted this claim, and there is no constitutional basis for such a decision. It is essential to rely on credible sources and factual information when evaluating such claims.

However, it`s worth considering that the local government election of Sri Lanka, scheduled for March 2023, has been indefinitely postponed, citing the country’s economic instability. There are also ongoing Fundamental Rights (FR) petitions filed against the non-holding of Local Government (LG) elections.


Title:Did The President of Sri Lanka Say That No Election Will Be Held Until the End of the IMF Program? Find out the facts…

Fact Check By: Kalana Krishantha 

Result: Missing Context

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