Friday, 06 December 2019 05:53

Election Chief suggests three dates for General Election

Elections Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya has suggested three dates for Sri Lanka’s Parliamentary Elections.

According to the Election Chief, if Parliament was to be dissolved on 1 March, the General Election could be held on 25, 27 or 28 April.

He was speaking to the media after a meeting between representatives of political parties and members of the Election Commission at the Election Secretariat.

Political party representatives, including Basil Rajapaksa representing the governing party Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), Attorney Sunil Watagala representing the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), and Rohana Hettiarachchi representing election monitor PAFFREL, participated in the meeting.

Deshapriya said the Election Commission has no need or an opinion as to when Parliament will be dissolved. However, if Parliament is dissolved by 1 March, the polls should be held before Vesak. “We explained today that the election could be held on 25, 27, or 28 April.”

He said the final draft of the 2019 Electoral Register will be displayed on 31 December this year, and for a week after that, the Commission will examine the claims and objections. The Commission expects to finalise and certify the 2019 electoral register by 24 January 2020.

The Election Chief added that the final list of voters, including the displaced people, could be confirmed before 15 February 2020, and the 2019 registry can be used only if an election is called after that final confirmation.

Speaking to media, Member of Parliament Mano Ganesan said they discussed the Provincial Council Elections as well at the meeting.

“The Provincial Council system is stalled because of the electoral system. The delimitation report has not been added yet. We have come to an agreement to go back to the old system,” the MP said.

Attorney Sunil Watagala said they raised the concerns of biased media at the Presidential Election.

“The State media supported one candidate. The private media supported another candidate. This was a serious situation. When renewing licenses of media institutions, action should be taken to ensure that all media outlets will not support just one candidate during election time,” he said. PAFFREL Executive Director Rohana Hettiarachchi said the attention of the Election Commission and Bar Association was drawn to the passage of the law with regard to limiting the campaign expenditure of candidates before the next Parliamentary Election.

“Since there is a large number of candidates contesting in the Parliamentary Election, there is a lot of money involved. By controlling excessive expenditure, every candidate has an equal opportunity in the election campaign. Everyone saw the need to pass legislation to make that space available to everyone,” said Hettiarachchi.

(FT)

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