- Date to be gazetted on 26 December
- Campaigning to begin from 9 January
- Hate speech will be penalised
By Skandha Gunasekara
The upcoming Local Government Elections will be held on 10 February 2018, Elections Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya revealed yesterday.
Addressing the media at the Department of Elections, Deshapriya said that 8, 10, 12 and 17 February were proposed and 10 February was unanimously selected by the Commission after much deliberation. Deshapriya asserted that the poll date would be made official only on 26 December through a Gazette as 10 February could only be gazetted within 49 days of nominations being accepted.
“Nobody ordered or instructed us to hold elections on this date. It was decided after extensive discussions,” he said.
With regard to election canvassing, the Elections Commission Chairman cautioned that campaigning could only be carried out once the nominations period had concluded.
The final day for nominations is 8 January.
He went on note that 13,000 polling stations would be set up but pointed out that only 12,300 of these had electricity.
“We will try our best to do the vote count at polling stations itself during the daytime,” he said.
Deshapriya warned that inflammatory speeches inciting racial, religious or caste disharmony would not be tolerated and that action would be taken against errant candidates.
“The party leaders will also be severely warned if such incidents occur,” he said, adding that candidates making sexist remarks against female candidates would also be penalised.
Addressing recent instances of party nominations being rejected, Deshapriya said that 497 nominations were received out of which 23 were not accepted for technical reasons.
He said that some were rejected as they were not submitted during the stipulated timeframe.
“Submission made at the improper time would first be accepted and then later rejected as they had not followed due process. There is a court order stating that we should accept such nominations and then reject them.”
Other nominations were not accepted as the individual who made the submission was not authorised to do so.
“Only the party secretary of the authorised agent can submit nominations. In independent groups it must be the group leader. Candidates can submit nominations only if they have informed us in writing beforehand,” Deshapriya said while pointing out that another reason for rejecting a nomination submission was that they had been handed over during auspicious times and not during the stipulated time period.
Furthermore, Deshapriya said that several media outlets had failed to respond to requests by the Election Commission to hand over footage of illegal canvassing practices by political parties that had taken place recently.