Sri Lanka sets Aug. 5 date for twice-delayed poll

Special Sri Lanka sets Aug. 5 date for twice-delayed poll
Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, seated center, with his new Cabinet members in this Nov. 22, 2019 photo in Colombo. Aug. 5 is the new date for elections. (AP)
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Updated 11 June 2020

Sri Lanka sets Aug. 5 date for twice-delayed poll

Sri Lanka sets Aug. 5 date for twice-delayed poll
  • Parliamentary elections were postponed from April 25 to June 20 due to coronavirus pandemic

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s much-awaited parliamentary elections, which have been postponed twice due to the coronavirus outbreak, will be held on Aug. 5, Election Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya announced on Wednesday.

“The date had been decided following a unanimous decision reached among the (commission) members,” Deshapriya said.

The parliamentary elections were postponed from April 25 to June 20 after coronavirus began spreading in the country.

But last month, the commission informed the top court that the elections could not be held in June.

Deshapriya said it would cost $45 million to hold the elections due to special quarantine measures that would need to be taken.

It is a sizeable increase in cost compared to the $31.5 million spent on the presidential polls last year.

“The commission has already got the guidelines from the Ministry of Health which spell out the dos and don’ts during the election when people come to cast their votes,” Deshapriya said.

The commission conducted a mock poll in the Ambalangoda polling division in Galle district on Sunday to gauge whether it could hold the elections while adhering to the health guidelines.

Around 200 voters took part in the mock poll. The selected voters were briefed at their homes on Saturday and given strict instructions to wear face masks.

According to the commission, 16,263,885 registered voters can exercise their franchise at this year’s parliamentary elections.