(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) – The first result of the ‘Presidential Election 2019’ can be expected by midnight on Saturday, Election Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya disclosed on Wednesday. The Chairman was addressing the last pre-poll press conference along with Election Commission Member Nalin Abeysekara PC, Election Commission Director General Saman Sri Rathnayake and Government Information Department Director General Nalaka Kaluwewa at the Government Information Department auditorium.
The Chairman also said that the Commission feared that the total cost of the Presidential Poll could exceed Rs.7.5 billion. He said it was now clear that 18 of the candidates who have entered the contest are supporting one of the two main candidates.
The EC Chairman said he sent a letter to the IGP asking to stop any hunger strikes being conducted during the cooling-off 48-hour pre-poll period that began yesterday.
He added that even though the Commission has no intention to obstruct freedom of expression by blocking any social media, the Commission might be compelled to do so if the situation becomes worse or uncontrollable. “Don’t push the Commission towards this end. We have written to Facebook to remove any paid advertisements or sponsored advertisements of the candidates,” he warned.
The Chairman also said that the Commission has requested the video clips from parents and students circulated by tuition masters promoting candidates. “This comes as undue interference as students are subordinates,” he explained.
He also called for a complete stop to any use of religious activities and places of religious worship to promote candidates. He said 10 such complaints were received on the recent Poya Day which have been forwarded to Police for investigation.
Deshapriya also reproached the state and private media for their conduct during the election period. “The media conduct in this election was worse than in any another previous election. Most of the media organizations did not respect the media guidelines. We may decide to disconnect or not release official results to some of these private media organizations. Legal action will be taken against the relevant State Media organizations,” he noted.
He said eight of 12 official foreign observers of the Election Commission, including Indians, Maldivians, Indonesians and South Africans, have now arrived in the country.
He said another 100 foreign observers are in the country representing the European Union, another 10-12 observers from the Commonwealth and another seven foreign observers are here on a study tour.