More rain will mean no polls in three districs

By Damith Wickremasekara

District Secretaries of three flood-affected areas have warned that any further rain in those districts might lead to the postponement of next month’s local council elections in those areas.

The warning came after Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake sought the views of the District Secretaries of the flood-affected areas as to whether they could go ahead with the elections.

Under the local government election laws Returning Officers who are the District Secretaries can decide whether elections could be held. Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Batticaloa Districts Secretaries said they had informed the Commissioner about the current situation.

In addition to mass-scale displacement where more than one million people were affected due to floods, a large number have also lost their national identity cards and other documents. “We informed the public in advance to keep their national identity cards with the Grama Sevakas for safety before the floods, but some of the people have lost their identity cards. We are trying to help them to obtain temporary identity cards,” Anuradhapura District Secretary H.M.K. Herath said.

Polonnaruwa District Secretary Nimal Abeysundara said extensive damage had been caused to agricultural land and houses making it difficult to conduct an election at this time. “We are trying our best to create suitable conditions for elections, but any more rains would make it difficult for us to conduct elections,” he said.

Batticalola District Secretary Suntharam Arumainayaham said there had been considerable damage in the area and they would be able to hold elections only if the weather remained good. “If there is any more rain, a postponement of elections will be required”. Earlier in the week, independent election monitoring group People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) met the Elections Commissioner and raised concerns about holding elections in flood-affected areas as the people were still struggling to get on with their normal life.

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