Colombo, Nov 1 (IANS): The Election Commission (EC) of Sri Lanka might announce the winner of the November 16 presidential election the following day but if the top two candidates fail to secure 50 per cent votes for an absolute majority, then the results would be delayed, a top official said here.
EC Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya added that if the Commission was led to count preferential votes to decide the winner, the results could be announced by November 17 night, the Daily Mirror reported.
Explaining the tedious and complex election process to the media on Thursday, Deshapriya said that due to the long list of presidential candidates in the fray, the EC had to use three varieties of reinforced cardboard boxes for small, middle-sized and extra-large polling stations.
He said that the EC has put in place a watertight, anti-malpractice and fool-proof mechanism to prevent so-called “computer gilmart” or election malpractices like stuffing of ballot boxes and impersonation etc.
“At each and every stage, there will be double checking of ballots at the polling centre, constituency, district, provincial and national levels from villages, electorates, districts, provinces and in the Colombo main operation centre before releasing the official results to the nation through print and electronic media,” Deshapriya stressed.
In response to an invitation by the EC, the European Union (EU) has deployed a mission to observe the election.
A record 35 candidates have filed their nominations for the island nation’s eighth presidential election, with incumbent President Maithripala Sirisena’s term coming to an end in January 2020.
Of the 35 hopefuls, Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna’s (SLPP) candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa; and the ruling United National Party’s (UNP) Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa, who is contesting as the National Democratic Front (NDF) contender, have emerged as the two favourites.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who served as the Defence Minister in his brother Mahinda Rajapaksa’s administration, oversaw the end of Sri Lanka’s brutal 25-year civil war in 2009.
Sajith is the son of late President Ranasinghe Premadasa, who ruled the country with an iron fist before he was assassinated by a Tamil suicide bomber on May 1, 1993.