Colombo, Jun 9 (PTI) Sri Lanka's election commission on Tuesday took the first step towards holding the twice-postponed parliamentary election with the issuance of the gazette indicating preferential numbers of the candidates and the designated polling stations.
The parliamentary polls were initially to be held on April 25 but had to be postponed due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which prompted the authorities to announce a nationwide lockdown from March 20.
Later, the election commission shifted the date to June 20. It was again deemed not suitable due to the raging COVID-19 pandemic.
“We will announce the date of the poll during either of the three days, that is June 10, 11 and 12," the Chairman of the National Election Commission, Mahinda Deshapriya, said.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on March 2 called a fresh parliamentary poll six months ahead of the schedule.
Under the country’s proportional representation system of elections, candidates representing political parties and independent groups vie for parliament by seeking votes against their individual number in the candidate list. The number of candidates differs from district to district in all the 22 electoral districts.
The voters can vote for three candidates after marking their vote for the party symbol of their choice.
Some 16 million people are eligible to vote in the election to choose the 225-member parliament for a 5-year term.
The election commission this week held a mock poll in the southern Galle district to test the COVID-19 health guidelines and its preparedness for the parliamentary polls likely to be held between late July and mid-August.
Deshapriya said there will be five more such mock polls soon to determine the likely time needed to cast each vote while sticking to the health guidelines.
The Opposition parties and civil society groups had petitioned the highest court to delay the election until COVID-19 threat could be negated. The court rejected their petitions.
The government has accused the Opposition of employing tactics to delay the poll for the fear of losing it.
Sri Lanka’s COVID-19 cases total increased to 1,857 Sunday with 22 more persons testing positive for the coronavirus. Eleven people have died due to COVID-19. PTI Corr NSA AKJ NSA