Polls Chief to invite EU, C’wealth, SAARC monitors for January poll

Wednesday, 26 November 2014 00:39 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Elections Commissioner says 8 Jan. picked for polling date in lieu of Pope’s visit

Polls Chief Mahinda Deshapriya will extend invitations to the European Union, Commonwealth and Asian and SAARC election observers to monitor the January 2015 presidential poll. Addressing a media briefing yesterday, Deshapriya noted that it was customary to invite all these organisations to observe major elections in the country. The Elections Secretariat said it would not extend invitations to the UN election observation missions because UN teams were only required in countries holding their first elections or when the electoral process was severely flawed. The election campaign for the January poll will be 30 days long, the Polls Chief explained. He said the country’s first presidential election campaign had also lasted only 33 days. “We have decided on 8 January in lieu of Pope Francis’ visit to Sri Lanka on 13 January,” Deshapriya said. Police forces will be busy with security arrangements for the Pontiff’s visit after 10 January, he noted. Deshapriya was responding to questions about why 8 January had been chosen for the presidential poll. The number 8 is said to astrologically favour President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The previous 2010 presidential poll was also held on 26 January. Over 15 million voters were registered to vote in the 2015 presidential poll, Deshapriya said. He added that with 253, 058 voters, the Wanni region would have the lowest number of registered voters at the January poll. (DB)