To elect Sixth Executive President:
*First post war Presidential election
*Voting from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
It is all systems go as the nation elects its sixth Executive
President today, the first Presidential poll to be held in post war Sri
Lanka. A total of 14,088,500 eligible voters will cast their ballot in
11,098 centres throughout the country. Colombo District has the largest
number of voters (1,521,854) and Trincomalee the smallest (241,133).
Polling will commence at 7 a.m. and end at 4 p.m. Special arrangements
have been made for the displaced persons in the North to cast their
votes. Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake has appealed to
voters to cast their vote early.
According to the Election Commissionerís Department there will be
nearly one million first time voters at todayís election where the
National ID cards or Identity documents stipulated by the Election
Commissionerís Department has been made compulsory for voting. Security
has been beefed up throughout the country to ensure law and order at
todayís poll with some 68,000 Policemen deployed for duty in one of
biggest security exercise in recent times. In addition, 25 Army platoons
too will be deployed to assist the police in any contingency. This is in
view of the escalating incidents of violence including four deaths
during the two month long polls campaign.
Incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa called for elections a full two
years before the expiry of his first term. This follows massive
victories scored by the UPFA at all Provincial Council elections,
barring the North where the poll is yet to held. There are 22 candidates
in the fray, 17 representing political parties and five independents.
But the battle is between President Rajapaksa contesting from the UPFA
under the symbol of the Betel Leaf and Sarath Fonseka of the New
Democratic Front under the Swan symbol.
President Rajapaksa is seeking a second term to build on the victory
achieved in the three decade long war and take Sri Lanka to lofty
heights as a major international player. He has the backing of 18
political parties and many other groups outside Parliament including
professionals and artistes. The President has presented a policy
document which is an extension of the Mahinda Chintana wherein he has
spelled out the future course charted for the country.
A large contingent of the foreign press corps has swooped down on Sri
Lanka to cover the election, the first major poll in post war Sri Lanka
which is going to receive considerable world attention. Foreign election
monitors too yesterday fanned out across the country to oversee voting
with special attention to the North. The Met Department forecasts bright
weather throughout the country today. All schools and liquor bars will
be closed on today and tomorrow (27).