Flood havoc: Polls chief reviews Jan. 8 election
A review on whether the presidential election can be conducted on January 8 in districts where and landslides have affected nearly a million people is now being carried out by the Commissioner of Elections Mahinda Deshapriya. The decision will follow another review meeting with the District Secretaries, Deputy Commissioner M.M. Mohamed told the Sunday Times. He said a full assessment of the ground situation was made when the Commissioner met District Secretaries yesterday as part of preparations for the poll.
Incessant rains have flooded several areas in the districts of Polonnaruwa, Anuradhapura, Ampara, Batticaloa and Badulla. Around 980,000 people have been affected by the heavy rains. At least 21 people have died in different areas due to landslides and flooding. The Commissioner will visit all the affected districts to make a personal assessment of the situation, Mr. Mohamed said. Thereafter a decision would be made on the conduct of the poll, he said.
One of the major issues related to the poll in affected areas is the distribution of poll cards. Post Master General D.L.P.R. Abeyratne said the legal requirement was that these cards be delivered a week before the poll. However, the Commissioner of Elections is empowered to give a directive where the deadline could be extended, he added. Additional Elections Commissioner U. Amaradasa said there were provisions in the election laws to defer polls in affected areas.
According to Polonnaruwa District Secretary Nimal Abeysiri, the District Secretaries in the affected districts including himself presented details of the prevailing situation and the measures that were needed.On Friday presidential candidates and their representatives raised the issue about floods and landslides with the Commissioner of Elections and suggested a postponement of the polls. Among those who raised the issue were UNP lawyer Daya Pelpola who was representing New Democratic Front candidate Maithripala Sirisena. However, UPFA representative Susil Premajayantha and some other candidates opposed any postponement.-Sunday Times