Campaign trail winds up on Wednesday

Polls monitors say people apathy due to lack of aggressive campaign by opposition parties
By Mirudhula Thambiah

More than 1.5 million voters will go to the polls on Saturday, October 8 to elect representatives to 23 local bodies including the crucial Colombo Municipal Council (CMC). In the third phase of the election to local authorities in the country, members will be elected to 17 municipal councils, five Pradeshiya Sabhas and one urban council.

The campaign trail ends on Wednesday and the next couple of days will see final ditch efforts by the candidates to win over voters. The total number of registered voters in these areas stands at 1,589,622 with the highest number being from within the Colombo Municipality-consisting of 393,085 voters followed by the Dehiwala- Mount Lavinia Municipality with 132,903.

Polling will take place in 1,167 booths with 6,488 candidates contesting for 420 seats. Postal voting was held on Thursday and Friday. Some 4,505 public servants were eligible for the postal vote.

The Sunday Times learns that the ballot sheet for the Colombo Municipality poll would be two-feet long as it accommodates nine political parties, 10 independent groups, 19 symbols and 1,121 candidates.
Meanwhile, the mayoral candidates from the two main political parties for the Colombo Municipal Council have decided to end their campaigns by holding election meetings in Colombo Central. UPFA Colombo mayoral candidate Milinda Moragoda will hold his final election meeting at Kosgas Junction in Grandpass while A.J.M Muzammil, the UNP mayoral candidate will hold his at Hulftsdorp. Striking a different approach Sunethra Ranasinghe, the chief UNP mayoral candidate for Dehiwala – Mount Lavinia, said she would hold a peace walk within the Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia municipality area.
“I will not hold a political meeting but will have a peace walk in Dehiwela on October 5 to establish my victory,” she said.

Meanwhile PAFFREL Executive Director Rohana Hettiarachchi said more than 1000 observers would be deployed on the day of the elections. “We will deploy 900 observers at the1167 polling booths while 23 mobile observers will also carry out their poll monitoring work.

According to PAFFREL 80 cases of election law violations were reported with the UPFA making five complaints and UNP 14 while CaFFE Executive Director Keethi Tennakoon said the number of election law violations and violence stood at 81.

He said compared to previous election campaigns there was less violence but that misuse of State property was rampant.

Pointing out that there was very little enthusiasm among the people he said this was mainly because the opposition parties such as the UNP and the JVP had not conducted an aggressive campaign.

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