Election campaign in Sri Lanka ends, voting on April 8
Last Updated: Tuesday, April 06, 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.


First Published: Tuesday, April 06, 2010, 17:49

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