SL extends voting time for parliamentary polls

Colombo, July 7 (IANS) The Sri Lankan Elections Commission (EC) has increased the voting time for the upcoming parliamentary polls by an hour, it was reported on Tuesday.

In a statement on Monday, the Commission said the revised polling time will now be from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., the Daily Financial Times newspaper reported.

The statement did not mention the reason for the extension but it was likely that the decision was made to give the public enough time to vote while adhering to social distancing measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sri Lanka is set to hold its parliamentary elections on August 5, after they were postponed twice due to restrictions linked to the pandemic.

The elections were initially set to be held on April 25, after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had dissolved Parliament in March following his landslide victory in the November 2019 presidential polls.

The date was shifted to June 20 after lockdown measures were announced in mid-March.

The elections are set be held under strict health protocols with campaign meetings limited to a maximum of 100 people, while the Elections Commission has recommended using the print and electronic media for campaign purposes and cutting down physical meetings to avoid exposure to the virus.

The Commission has also limited house-to-house campaigns to a maximum of three people.

Rajapaksa was sworn-in as President after an easy victory in the November 16, 2019 polls on the back of an agenda focused on national security.

Soon after, he appointed his brother Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Prime Minister and dissolved the opposition-majority Parliament.

The President's Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna party has to win majority in the house in order to secure the government's full control in the semi-presidential representative democracy.



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