Lanka's Election Commission invites foreign observers to monitor April polls

The observers will submit observations& recommendations after the polls conclude

1191439963 Fresh start: President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the inauguration of the fourth session of the parliament | Getty Images

Sri Lanka's National Election Commission has invited foreign observers to monitor the upcoming parliamentary polls in the island nation.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on March 2 dissolved Parliament six months ahead of its schedule and called a snap election on April 25. The earlier Parliament was appointed on September 1, 2015.

Rajapaksa sacked the House after the minimum term of four-and-a-half years necessary to dissolve it. 

Rajapaksa, who was elected to office in November last year, had said he cannot work freely because his powers had been reduced. He also faced restrictions as the opposition commanded a majority in the 225-member House.

According to National Election Commission member S Ratnajeevan H Hoole, the organisation has invited observers from the European Union (EU), Commonwealth countries and the NGO, Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL), to monitor the upcoming parliamentary election, the Daily Mirror reported on Thursday.

The observers will be deployed across the country. They will submit their observations and recommendations after the conclusion of the polls. 

The observers will carry out a comprehensive election assessment, focusing on the legal framework, electoral administration, voter registration, campaigning, conduct of the media, including social media, voting, counting and tallying, and the transmission of results.

Local election monitors are also likely to invite their own foreign observers, the Colombo Gazette reported. 

Over 16.2 million voters are eligible to exercise their franchise. The new Parliament will meet on May 14.

President Rajapaksa, who named his elder brother and former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa as the prime minister of the caretaker cabinet in December, earlier said he wanted two-thirds seats in the 225-member assembly. 

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