Dharma Sri Abeyratne
Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya urged political parties and candidates contesting the forthcoming general election to refrain from arousing communal and religious passions for political gain. He was addressing the media at the Elections Department at Rajagiriya yesterday. “Don’t arouse communalism and religious sensitivities for the sake of political gains during the election campaign,” he said. Hate speech should not be used at election rallies, Deshapriya said.
He said in accordance with Parliamenraty Elections Act Number 01 of 1981, distributing or displaying handbills, posters, placards, drawings, notices, photographs of a candidate, symbol, sign, flag or banner at any religious ceremony are prohibited. Deshapriya said that party offices cannot be established in religious places even though the head or a member of that particular religious place is contesting the election.
The commissioner said a special mechanism will be put into practice at this election to assist disabled persons. “They will be provided with facilities for easy access to polling booths. Under this arrangement, polling booths set up on the top floors of storeyed buildings will be brought to the ground floors providing easy access for the disabled and elderly persons,” he said.
The Commissioner also spoke of telecasting of election results in sign language. Speaking on election law violations, especially the pasting of posters and display of cut-outs, the Commissioner said this election will probably be the last election where public funds will be used to remove posters and other propaganda material. While appreciating the positive attitude of the Police to remove illegal posters, he added that the Police has been making huge efforts to enforce election laws. Rs. 75 million is allocated for the Police to utilise to remove posters and banners, Deshapriya said.
He said he has instructed the police to file case against candidates whose numbers with symbols are drawn on public roads. “We have been informed of several such incidents. General Secretaries of those political parties were informed by the Elections Department in this regard,” he said.
Speaking about the National List, Deshapriya said candidates whose names are not included in the National List or who does not contest in the election will not be allowed to be appointed as an MP