By Shaahidah Riza
The Local Government elections will be held on 10 February 2018, and it will be gazetted on 26 December 2017, Chairman of the Election Commission Mahinda Deshapriya said yesterday.
He told a media briefing, the Commission had extensively deliberated on potential dates for the poll (08, 10, 12 and 17 February, 2018) and ultimately had agreed on 10 February. He added that the Commission had not been pressured by any politician in arriving at the decision and that it was the independent ruling of the Commission in line with the relevant legal requirement of holding the election 59 days after accepting nominations.
The accepting of nominations for 248 Local Government institutions commenced yesterday (18), and will conclude at 12 noon on 21 December.
Deshapriya went on to note that the closing date for the postal nominations had been extended to 12 midnight on 21 December.
“If anyone intends to post their nominations after today (19), I would suggest that they hand in their application to the closest Divisional Secretariat. If the nominations are received after the deadline, it will be duly rejected,” he said. He added that the nomination period concludes on 8 January 2018.
Deshapriya added that there will be 13,000 polling stations and that the Commission will try its utmost to calculate all votes within the station. He added that the Commission will also attempt to do all calculations before dusk.He observed that 12,300 polling stations lacked electricity.
“This election will be a people’s election. It is up to the public to refrain from casting fraudulent votes and to prevent any incidents at polling stations. If the Commission discovers that any fraud has taken place we will not hesitate to annul the votes,” he said.
He went on to note that canvassing in vehicle processions was also prohibited and that the Election Commission cannot be blamed for the violations that are taking place as it does not have the mandate to arrest the violators.
Elaborating further he said: “The media broadcast extensive footage of a candidate who engaged in canvassing via vehicular processions. Only the Police have the power to apprehend those who violate election laws.
However the media accused the Election Commission of not taking any action regarding this. We have written to the relevant media organizations and requested them to share the footage of those who engaged in vehicular processions. To date, not a single organization has supplied us with such material. The Commission has made the party leadership aware of all these laws, despite that, the candidates still tend to violate the election laws.”
He also discouraged politicians and candidates from distributing goods obtained through State funds to the public. He added that a notice will be placed on all such items indicating that the goods were sponsored by the State and not by the politician or the candidate who distributed the items. It is the responsibility of the State officials to protect State property from being misused, he noted.
“If there are any State buildings that have to be urgently opened for public use, I would advise the candidates to refrain from doing so and to avoid political speeches. The candidate’s vehicle and home can display campaign material. However the vehicle must be registered in the candidate’s name. If the candidate is seeking representation in another division where he does not reside, the Commission will consider such cases and provide an alternative solution,” he said.
Deshapriya added that the Commission had been notified of many cut-outs and posters that have already been put up.
He added that the glue that had been used to stick the posters had been mixed with pieces of glass. Therefore, those who had been employed by the Commission to remove the posters had sustained injuries.
“Since it is an arduous task to remove the posters, we will instead paste another poster, endorsed by the Election Commission, above it, indicating that the said campaign poster violates election laws and that action will be taken against it.”
Deshapriya also added that the Commission will not tolerate hate speech, and other inflammatory comments that would incite racial, religious, or caste divisions made in public or in social media.
He stressed that the Commission will take strict action against anyone who engages in such behaviour and also the party leadership will be severely warned. He further added that the Commission will also take severe measures against anyone who harasses female candidates and make sexist and insulting comments.
Courtesy : CEYLON TODAY