Voting underway in LG elections seen as unofficial referendum

Voting is underway in the Local Government (LG) elections seen as an unofficial referendum on the performance of the unity Government so far.

The election, the first election to be held since the current Government came to power in 2015 is being held under tight security.

The coalition Government led by President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has been accused by some sections of society and the opposition of failing to fully meet public expectations.

Sirisena’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party and Wickremesinghe’s United National Party are contesting the elections separately with the main challenge coming from the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna led by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The Local Government elections will be held from 7.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. today to elect 8,325 candidates for 340 Local Government bodies.

The counting of votes and postal votes will commence after the conclusion of voting.

The Government said that the services of 65,758 Police officers, 41,178 Special Task Force (STF) officers and 7,278 other officers will be utilized for the Local Government elections today.

Police Spokesman, Superintendent of Police Ruwan Gunasekara said that the officers have been deployed throughout the island, for election-related duties and to maintain law and order while the election is taking place today and in the immediate aftermath of the polls.

He noted that 26,840 officers have been deployed to the 13,420 election centers. Every election center will have two armed Police officers.

Furthermore, 3,225 mobile Police units with 13,552 officers have be deployed island-wide for monitoring purposes. The Government also said that 99 STF mobile units will be located in selected areas as well while 175 riot Police teams will also be deployed during this period.

Police said that these security measures had been taken following a request made to this effect by the Election Commission.

Army Spokesman Brigadier Sumith Atapattu said that around 850 soldiers have been deployed to 155 selected areas while the additional battalions will also be kept in a state of readiness to meet any emergency situation. (Colombo Gazette)

Pictures by Lalith Perera and respective Ministry media divisions