Election campaign in Sri Lanka ends, voting on April 8

Last Updated: Tuesday, April 6, 2010 - 17:49

Colombo: With the six-week-long
campaigning coming to an end, the stage has been set for Sri
Lanka`s April 8 parliamentary elections, which appears to be a
cakewalk for President Mahinda Rajapaksa`s ruling coalition
after an impressive win in the January 26 Presidential polls.

Rajapakse called Thursday`s vote two months ahead of
schedule after his impressive re-election in January.

As many as 7,620 candidates from 36 political parties
and 306 independent groups are in the fray for the elections
which is seen as an litmus test for detained ex-army chief
Sarath Fonseka.

It remains to be seen whether detained former Army
Chief Sarath Fonseka can attract voters as during the January
26 Presidential elections when he was the common opposition
candidate. Incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa had won the
elections by over 1.8 million votes.

Fonseka, now the leader of the JVP dominated
Democratic National Alliance, will have to face the challenge
from former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe-led United
National Front (UNF) besides the Rajapaksa-led United People
Freedom Alliance (UPFA).

The campaigning for the poll ended yesterday.
According to Department of elections, there are a total of
14,088,500 voters.

Security arrangements throughout the country have been
made for the general elections, Inspector General of Police
Mahinda Balasuriya told reporters.

Sri Lanka follows a proportional representation
system.

The Unicameral Sri Lankan Parliament has 225 seats out
of which 196 will witness direct voting.

The remaining 29 slots are allocated through the
National List based on the vote percentages political parties
and independent groups obtain.

As many as 58,700 police officers will be deployed to
maintain law and order, he said, adding plans are afoot to
draw 19,500 armed forces personnel to strengthen security.

Top police officials said the military will not be
deployed inside polling booths and will be confined to the
role of assisting the authorities in areas that witness law
and order problem.

According to the Election Secretariat, all
arrangements have been made to ensure a free and fair
election.

Balasuriya has been directed by Election Commissioner
Dayananda Dissanayake to remove all cut-outs, hoardings and
posters within the stipulated timeframe.

Candidates are allowed to have their political offices
within a 500-metre zone from the polling booths.

Police will also have 2,584 mobile units on patrol
round- the-clock on the election day.

Preventive arrests have been made before the general
elections.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, April 6, 2010 - 17:49

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