While vociferous crowds of political supporters outside roared their backing for their respective candidates the Election Commission yesterday accepted nomination papers and registered 35 candidates, setting the stage for Sri Lanka’s eighth Presidential Election on November 16th to elect the seventh Executive President of the Republic. This is the highest number of candidates in the contest for the Presidency, although only one is a woman.
Thirty five candidates representing several recognized political parties and independent groups had handed over their nominations to the Election Commission when the accepting of nominations closed at 11 a.m. yesterday.
The Presidential candidates included UNP Deputy Leader and Minister Sajith Premadasa, representing the New Democratic Front, former Defence Ministry Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa representing the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna, the JVP’s Parliamentary group leader Anura Kumara Diassanayake representing the Jathika Jana Bala Vyaparaya and, former Army Commander General Mahesh Senanayake of the Jathika Janatha Pakshaya.
The Commission had received two objections during the time allocated for the public to file objections against the nominations.
Presidential Candidate of the Janasetha Peramuna Ven.Battaramulle Seelarathana Thera had filed objections against the candidacy of M.L.A.M. Hisbullah and Nava Sihala Urumaya candidate Sarath Manamendra had filed objections against the candidacy of independent candidate M.K.Sivajilingam.
After consideration of the objections by EC Chairman Deshapriya and Commission members N.J. Abeysekara, PC and Prof. S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole, Deshapriya announced that the objections were dismissed by the EC as they were not in compliance with the provisions of the Presidential Election Act.
Subsequent to the handing over of the nominations, the Chairman of the Commission Mahinda Deshapriya addressed the candidates and explained the legal and ethical framework for the upcoming election campaign period and voting day on November 16th.
This year 15,992,096 voters will be eligible to cast their vote at the Presidential Election 2019 to be held on November 16. The term of the sixth President of the Republic, Maithripala Sirisena, is to end on January 8 next year.
EC Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya, addressing the candidates said: “It will be illegal to conduct political marches to promote the candidates from today until November 23.”
The Commission requests the general public, media and the election observers to make any complaint with regard to the Presidential election to the contact telephone numbers: 2868212/14/17 or, to Fax number 2868526/29.
It is expected that this year, the EC will have to spend nearly Rs.5,000 million for the entire election process as the number of candidates has increased significantly.