Parliamentary elections to elect the 9th parliament of Sri Lanka will be held on August 5th, the Election Commission announced today (June 10).
Parliament was dissolved by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on March 2nd, and the poll was to be held on April 25th. However, the holding of the poll had to be postponed with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, with the Election Commission tentatively fixing June 20th as the new date. With the number of patients afflicted with the Corona virus increasing the possibility of holding the poll in June too, became remote.
The August date has been decided following the greenlight from health authorities.
Accordingly, health guidelines allow a maximum of 100 participants at propaganda meetings, while the preferred method that has been advocated is through the use of print or electronic media, especially television.
While processions cannot be held the area Medical Officer of Health must be notified three days prior to a meeting. The guidelines also state that the venue for meetings must be spacious enough to ensure the required distance between attendees is maintained, and that the place must also have proper ventilation. Speakers too must maintain the required distance. All participants must wear face masks. While the meetings are to be restricted to three hours, organisers of the meetings are expected to maintain a list of names and addresses of attendees. Hand bills cannot be distributed at meetings.
The microphones are to be disinfected between speakers.
When distributing propaganda too, only three persons will be allowed, while no one with a fever, whether or not they display respiratory symptoms could be part of the group. The route they take must be recorded, including the roads and by-roads visited and this record must be kept with the candidate. Hands must be sanitized before and after distribution of leaflets. These groups are not to enter anyone’s home while distributing propaganda.
Candidates too will be required to reduce the number of election offices and thereby limit the numbers gathering at offices. Opening hours will be limited only to accommodate essential work and the number of people inside the office must be kept to the minimum, the guidelines further state. Wearing masks and maintaining required distance is to be observed at all times.
On Sunday, June 7th, the Election Commission conducted a mock poll observing the health guidelines