Nearly 8,000 vie for 196 slots in 7th Parliament
District Returning Officers (DROs) of the 22 electoral districts concluded receiving of nominations yesterday for the April 8 General Elections where 225 members of Parliament including 29 national list members are to be elected to the 7th Parliament.
According to the final count of the Elections Secretariat, the General Election will be contested by 7696 candidates from 24 political parties and hundreds of independent groups, kicking off a hectic election propaganda campaign.
The Elections Secretariat will use the same 2008 electoral register, the polling divisions and polling stations used for the January 26 Presidential election for the Parliamentary elections as well, Deputy Elections Commissioner W.P.Sumanasiri said. The Elections Secretariat will set up 10,875 polling stations in 160 polling divisions at 333 Divisional Secretariats for a total of 140,88,500 voters, Mr.Sumanasiri said.
An elaborate security arrangement was in place at every district election office island wide. The demonstrations and processions in support of candidates have been totally banned from yesterday, a spokesman for the Police election desk said.
One of the unprecedented features of this election is that one of the main party leaders, General Sarath Fonseka, leader of the JVP led Democratic National Alliance is contesting the election while in Military custody.
He is facing prosecution in a military court and civil court for alleged offences committed violating the provisions under the Army Act and Civil Procedure Code. No party leader has ever contested an election while in custody in Sri Lanka’s political history.
The election campaign of the UPFA will kick off today in Anuradhapura with a series of religious observances attended by President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
“The main religious ceremony will be held before Sri Maha Bodhi at 2.00 p.m. and all candidates contesting under the betel leaf have been invited to participate. Hindu, Muslim, Catholic and Christian religious ceremonies have been organized elsewhere in Anuradhapura this afternoon,” Minister Premajayantha told Daily Mirror.
All UPFA candidates have been instructed to gather at the Anuradhapura President’s House premises at 4.00 p.m. after religious ceremonies. They will pledge before President Rajapaksa to conduct a clean and violence free election campaign and to abide by the rules and instructions issued by the Elections Commissioner and the IGP, Minister Premajayantha said.
The main opposition UNP has not decided on its main propaganda rallies yet. But District propaganda meetings will start from today in the 22 districts, a party source said.
The PAFFREL, CaFFE and the CMEV will monitor the campaign with a contingent of 15,000 monitors while the PAFFREL will get the services of foreign monitors from the Asian Network for Free and Fair Elections (ANFFE), Executive Director of the PAFFREL Rohana Hettiiaarachchi said.
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