Colombo, Nov 7 (IANS): The Election Commission (EC) of Sri Lanka has asked Muslim women, wearing either the burqa or niqab, to remove their face covering at the entrance of the polling centres during the November 16 presidential election.
Speaking to Daily Mirror on Wednesday, EC Director-General Saman Sri Ratnayake said what was required was for a woman prove her identity inside the polling centre when she was given a ballot paper.
“Her identity should tally with the face on the identity card. For that, she has to remove the face cover,” Ratnayake said.
“This is not only to help the presiding officers but the polling agents as well.”
He said that it was absolutely necessary to verify the identity of an individual, who comes for voting.
“We can’t forbid the wearing of burqa and niqab because it is connected to their culture. What we expect from the voters is to verify their identity before a ballot paper is given to them,”
“How can we allow someone to cast her or his vote without identifying themselves?” he queried.
If someone refuses to remove her face cover, Ratnayake said that the respective presiding officers would have to refuse such a person to cast her vote.
These are the island nation’s eighth presidential election, with incumbent President Maithripala Sirisena’s term coming to an end in January 2020.
A record 35 candidates are in the fray.