Presidential Election: EC looking at polls date from 16 Sep.-17 Oct.

The forthcoming Presidential Election is slated to take place on a day between 16 September and 17 October next year, as confirmed by Election Commission (EC) Chairman R.M.A.L. Rathnayake.

He told The Sunday Morning that the specific date for the election would be decided and officially announced in July (as per the two-month advance notice prior to the commencement of the stipulated election period).

Emphasising on adherence to constitutional and legal frameworks, Rathnayake highlighted that the selection of the election date would strictly follow the procedures outlined in both the Constitution and the Presidential Elections Act.

Accordingly, Section 2 of the Presidential Elections Act No.15 of 1981 states: “(1) Where the Commissioner of Elections is required by the Constitution to conduct the election of the President, he shall by Order published in the gazette (a) fix the date of nomination of candidates being a date not less than 16 days and not more than one month from the date of publication of such Order, and the place of nomination; and (b) fix the date on which the poll shall be taken, being a date not less than one month and not more than two months from the date of nomination.

“(2) The date fixed under paragraph (a) or paragraph (b) of subsection (1) shall be any day other than a full moon Poya day or any public holiday specified in the First Schedule to the Holidays Act No.29 of 1971; and if, after the publication of the Order under subsection (1), any day specified therein is declared to be a public holiday, such declaration shall in no way affect the validity of anything done on such day for the purposes of that subsection.”

Further, Chapter VII, Section 31(3) of the Constitution states: “The poll for the election of the President shall be taken not less than one month and not more than two months before the expiration of the term of office of the President in office.”

Explaining further, the EC Chairman said that essential measures had already been initiated to prepare for the upcoming Presidential Election, including the formation of the electoral registry.

He further disclosed that subsequent tasks, such as securing funds for activities like printing ballot papers and other documentation work, were scheduled to commence in the coming year.

When asked about the General Election, the EC Chairman clarified that the anticipated date was 2025. However, he pointed out the possibility for the newly-elected President to dissolve Parliament and expedite the General Election upon assuming office. This flexibility is contingent upon the preferences of the incoming president.

Meanwhile, President Ranil Wickremesinghe asserted in Parliament last week that both the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections were scheduled to be held next year.