- Poll will not be postponed due to COVID-19
By Sandun A. Jayasekera
Accepting nominations of candidates for the forthcoming parliamentary election will conclude at 12:00 noon on Thursday at respective District Secretariats of the 22 electoral districts.
- Refrain from gathering, amassing your supporters and conducting processions in the vicinity of the nomination hall
Elections Commission (EC) Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya said deposits from independent groups to contest the election would be accepted till 12:00 noon tomorrow while recognised political parties were not required to place deposits to contest the parliamentary election. He said 46 recognised political parties were qualified to contest the general election and that the poll would not be postponed due to COVID-19.
Furthermore, the EC announced that all returning officers and deputy or assistant commissioners of elections had been instructed to accept applications for postal voting until midnight on March 17 as March 16 was declared a public holiday.
According to the National Elections Commission, 16,263,885 registered voters are eligible to exercise their franchise at the parliamentary election scheduled to be held on April 25. At the election, 196 members are to be elected at a district level under the proportional representation system to the 225-member Parliament while 29 members will be elected from the National List for the ninth Parliament of Sri Lanka.
“When compared with the 2015 election, the Galle and Matara Districts will lose one electorate each while the Badulla and Moneragala Districts will be given one seat each,” Mr. Deshapriya said.
As the Public Administration and Home Affairs Minister declared March 16 a public holiday, the Elections Commission announced that neither deposits nor nominations for the parliamentary election would be received yesterday. It is further announced that deposits and nominations would be received during office hours on March 17 and 18 and from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon on March 19 as notified earlier. The Elections Commission will issue the notice of poll under Section 24 (1) of the Parliament Elections Act No.1 of 1981 on March 19 finalising matters pertaining to nominations and objections.
Mr. Deshapriya made an appeal to authorised agents of political parties and leaders of independent groups to send in or nominate only persons authorised in law to be present at nomination halls to submit their nominations on March 17, 18 and 19.
“The secretary, authorised agent or independent group leader along with the person whose name appears second on the nomination paper may enter the nomination hall and if required only, one assistant may be brought to the premises. Since conducting any procession and election rally is prohibited under the election law and as it is important to be protected from COVID-19, I urge you to refrain from gathering, amassing your supporters and conducting processions in the vicinity of the nomination hall,” he said.
The Elections Commission urges political party leaders, candidates and activists to refrain from holding public rallies and election campaigns pulling large crowds not only during these few days but also for at least 10 more days.
The commission requests the public to report any violation of the election law to the National Elections Complaint Management Centre via 011-2886179 or 011-2886421 and fax: 011-2886551.