Highest number of contestant deposits for a Prez poll | Daily News


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Highest number of contestant deposits for a Prez poll

‘publicise asset declaration on candidate Website’

The election campaign laws will be strictly enforced during the upcoming Presidential Election, National Election Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya stressed yesterday.

Addressing the media at the Election Secretariat premises yesterday along with Election Commission Members Prof.Rathnajeevan Hoole and Nalin Abeysekara and Police Media Spokesman SP Ruwan Gunasekara, Deshapriya said all arrangements are in place to accept nominations for the ‘Presidential Election 2019’ on Monday.

He said 33 candidates, consisting of 19 candidates from accepted political parties and 14 independent candidates, had placed deposits for the upcoming Presidential Election as at noon yesterday, making it the highest ever number of deposit placements for a Presidential Election in Sri Lanka. Among them are two Buddhist monks and a female candidate.

“We assume the number of deposit placements will exceed 25. Not all individuals who place deposits hand over the nominations.

The higher the number of candidates, the workload of our election officers and the cost of election will be higher too. We will have to find large halls to count the votes and put up temporary shelters to accommodate polling agents of all candidates,” he remarked.

Deshapriya, observing that the cost of conducting the Presidential Election has been estimated at Rs.4,500 million. However, he said this sum could even add up to Rs.5,000 million, and that he would definitely need additional funds.

The Election Commission Chairman also pointed out that this would be the first ever Presidential Election in Sri Lanka, in which the incumbent President, Prime Minister, Opposition Leader or a former Opposition Leader does not contest.

Deshapriya requested all candidates to submit a non-binding affidavit when they hand over the nominations declaring that he or she is not ineligible to contest and that he or she would abide by the election laws, ethics and media guidelines.

He also requested them to hand over their assets and liabilities declaration with the nomination forms and to display the same on their official webpages.

Stressing on election campaign laws, the Chairman said all posters, banners, cut-outs and digital advertising in public places are not allowed and that all of them would be removed.

“We asked the candidates to instruct their supporters to voluntarily take them out before the nomination day.

Those who put up such banners and posters after that, except in front of election offices, would be dealt under the law. Posters can only be pasted to inform a public meeting or rally also including the names of the speakers, but without the photograph of the candidate. That should also be limited to that respective area where the event is organized,” he said.

Reminding that the Election Commission was monitoring all public ceremonies and national events, Deshapriya asked not to use such platforms to promote any candidate, also warning that the public officials would have to be responsible if election regulations were not adhered.

Responding to a question whether a party that placed the deposit could change the candidate after nominations, Deshapriya said such an instance had not happened before, and in any such case the Commission would have to meet and arrive at a decision. “There had been instances where the candidate had died after nominations, and that the Act provides for alternative candidate at such times. However, the Act is silent is on any other reason to change the candidate,” he explained. Commenting on accepting the nominations, Deshapriya said the he would stick to the provisions in the Act. “We will also respect any Supreme Court order on us,” he responded.

Deshapriya also said that no candidate is allowed to promote another candidate, and if such instances were encountered the Election Commission would intervene to stop the air-time given to him/her.

Asked on instances of foreign countries sponsoring election campaigns of candidates, Deshapriya said such matters, if there was a complaint, would be directed to the Police for investigation. He said that the draft Campaign Finance Bill has included provisions to prevent such instances. 

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