Colombo (PTI) – On the eve of Sri Lankan presidential polls, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe urged the people to vote peacefully and maintain law and order to ensure a free and fair election.
There are 15.9 million eligible voters who will choose a successor to President Maithripala Sirisina on Saturday. There are a record 35 candidates vying for the presidency. Sirisena, who was elected in 2015, is not seeking re-election.
In a special statement, Wickremesinghe recalled that through the 19th Amendment, the government set up independent commissions and created a democratic, lawful and peaceful environment throughout the country.
“All arrangements are being made to hold the first presidential election in such a democratic, legal, fair and just environment tomorrow, Saturday,” the prime minister was quoted as saying by the Colombo Page news portal.
The Election Commission has provided all necessary measures to hold a free and fair election. The armed forces and police have been instructed to provide adequate security needed for the election.
“The duty and responsibility of all of us as citizens are to provide the maximum support to the relevant agencies and officials to ensure free, fair and peaceful elections,” said.
“What we need to do is strengthen this free environment and to provide maximum contribution not to recreate an unruly political culture like in the past.”
“Therefore, I call on all of you to cast your vote peacefully tomorrow, November 16 and support to hold this presidential election freely and fairly,” Wickremesinghe said.
Saturday’s election is taking place, nearly seven months after homegrown radicals pledging loyalty to the Islamic State terror group detonated suicide bombs at three churches and three posh hotels, killing 269 people, seriously hitting the tourism industry, one of the main forex earning sectors of the country.
“I also call upon all of you to act in a peaceful manner while safeguarding law and order in the wake of the announcement of election results,” the prime minister added.
Meanwhile, Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) has urged the Elections Commission of Sri Lanka (ECSL), to prosecute individuals and parties who have committed offences against public property in the run up to the 2019 presidential poll.
As at the beginning of the campaign moratorium on November 13, TISL’s election monitoring arm, the Program for the Protection of Public Resources (PPPR) had received 112 complaints and had submitted 88 verified complaints to the ECSL, Colombo Gazette newspaper reported.
Meanwhile, several countries have issued travel advisories as Sri Lanka prepares to vote at the Presidential election, a separate report said.
The United States, United Kingdom and Australia are among the countries which have issued travel advisories for Sri Lanka, the report said.
The United States has alerted American citizens of the potential for demonstrations before, during, and after the November 16 presidential election, according to a Colombo Gazette report.