January 15, 2018 / 12:27 PM / a month ago

Sri Lanka reimposes women alcohol ban days after it was lifted

COLOMBO (Reuters) - Sri Lanka reimposed a decades-old law banning the selling of alcohol to women and preventing women from working in liquor stores on Monday - just days after it was lifted.

Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera revoked the 1979 ban last week.

“I spoke with the finance minister, ...prime minister, and several other ministers and asked them to cancel the gazette immediately. The gazette will be withdrawn from tomorrow,” President Maithripala Sirisena said at an election rally on Sunday.

The move comes as the government’s main coalition partners, the centre-left Sri Lanka Freedom Party and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s centre-right United National Party, are campaigning for long-delayed local elections.

Officials at the finance ministry said the ban was lifted after repeated requests from the tourism industry to extend bar hours and allow female tourists to buy alcohol.

But that move was criticised by opposition parliamentarians who said the move would damage Sri Lanka’s Buddhist values. Sinhalese Buddhists account for more than 70 percent of the island nation’s 21 million population.

Sri Lanka will hold local government elections on Feb. 10.

Reporting by Ranga Sirilal; Writing by Shihar Aneez; Editing by Nick Macfie

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