campaigning ends tonight

Published : 8:08 am  August 14, 2015 | No comments so far |  |  (466) reads | 

By Sandun A Jayasekera
The curtain will come down at midnight today ending the gruelling-33 day chaotic but relatively peaceful propaganda campaign for Monday’s general elections being held to elect 225 members to the 15th Parliament of Sri Lanka.

A total of 6,151 candidates from 22 political parties and 201 independent groups are vying for 196 seats at stake in the August 17 Parliamentary polls and another 29 members are to be appointed from the National List by political parties based on the total number of votes they poll from the 22 districts under the Proportional Representative System.


The Additional Elections Commissioner said the Elections Secretariat had set up 12,314 centres for 15,044, 490 eligible voters to cast votes on Monday. The number of officials deployed for election duty would be nearly 200,000.


Receiving of nominations to one of the most crucial and decisive Parliamentary elections since independence concluded on July 13.
A total of 14 political parties namely: The United National Party, (UNP) United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) Ilankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi (ITAK) Eelam Peoples Democratic Party (EPDP) Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) Democratic Party (DP) Frontline Socialist Party (FSP) United Socialist Party (USP) United People’s Party (UPP) Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) Okkoma Wasiyo – Okkoma Rajawaru Sanvidanaya (OWORS) Jana Setha Peramuna (JSP) Sri Lanka Vanguard Party (SLVP) and All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC) have fielded 1,200 candidates and 130 independent groups 1,000 in the 22 districts.  One of the significant facets of the election propaganda campaign was the peaceful atmosphere in comparison to previous elections as a result of Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya deciding to apply the elections law to the letter .


Mr. Deshapriya went to the extent to stop a number of new appointments by certain state institutions and transferred some officials who allegedly violated election laws in the run up to Monday’s poll.


The Election Commissioner and three leading election monitoring NGOs have deployed nearly 25,000 local observers and about 200 international observers to monitor the poll.


A team of Commonwealth election observers numbering about 12 now in the country expressing optimism pointed out that there is an extremely conducive environment for a democratic election in Sri Lanka and hoped that Monday’s poll would be free and fair.


Commonwealth Observer Group Head, Former President of Malta, Dr. George Abeyla said the group remained ‘cautiously optimistic’ regarding the election as there was an extremely beneficial situation with all parties coming to an agreement to engage in the election campaign by safeguarding election laws.


He said Sri Lanka was well placed to hold a democratic election that enjoys confidence of the people but the monitors have to wait till the electoral process was over to make a final judgment.


The observers are scheduled to tour the Western, Central, Northern, North Central, and North Western provinces in the next few days. Special attention will be focused on the 48-hour campaign-free period prior to the poll day as well as on voting, vote counting and release of results.


Executive Director of the CMEV (Center Monitoring Election Violence) Dr. Pakyasothi Sarawanamuttu said 1,413 incidents of election related violence had been reported to the CMEV by noon yesterday and 106 of them were of serious nature while the others were in respect of violations of the election law.


Dr. Sarawanamuttu also admitted that election violence were not widespread at this election in comparison to past election campaigns.  
Meanwhile, Peoples Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) Executive Director Rohana Hettiarachchi said 1,108 election related violence had been reported by yesterday including two killings.


The PAFFREL is to deploy nearly 15,000 local and 70 foreign observers to ensure a free and fair election, Mr. Hettiarachchi added.
The ruling UNP pledges to make Sri Lanka the ‘Centre of Excellence’ in almost all sectors within the next five years under its ‘Five Pillar Programme’ while the UPFA manifesto entitled, ‘An Assurance for the Future’ with subtitles, Let’s Empower the Country – Let’s Start Afresh’ promises a huge relief package covering the entire society and the people in the country belonging to all sections, professions and age groups.


The JVP in its manifesto ‘Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide’ promises to make Sri Lanka a prosperous and modern country with equal distribution of wealth. The TNA that rules the roosts in the North wants voters to give it a bigger power at this election to achieve self rule, lands and police power, release of political prisoners from jail and the merger of North –East province to make a Tamil speaking region.


Police Spokesman, Ruwan Gunasekara said the Police Department expected to deploy 70,000 police personnel and 4,000 STF officers to conduct a trouble free election and they will be stationed at polling booths, mobile services, riot controlling and road blocks.