All political parties informed of the decision: action against violators | Commission also launches social media campaign to raise awareness

The Elections Commission has prohibited political parties from using religious places for any election propaganda, Chairman of the Elections Commission, Mahinda Deshapriya told the Sunday Observer.

He said that the Elections Commission has already informed political parties in this regard and no direct or indirect propaganda activity will be allowed at religious places, under any circumstances.

“This also includes holding discussions on elections campaigns within religious places or centres,” the Chairman said.

These measures, Deshapriya said, have been taken to safeguard election laws during the forthcoming LG elections.

“Imposing laws is not adequate to ensure justice and fair play during an electoral process.

Therefore, we will take measures to educate the voters and the candidates on the importance of safeguarding election laws,” he said.

A social media campaign will also be launched by the Elections Commissions to

raise awareness among the voters on the election and election laws.

“The media too has an important role to play in this regard. But, we believe that social media will be a more effective vehicle to underscore our message,” he said.

Conducted under the slogans of ‘Vote is your right’, ‘Vote is your voice’, ‘Vote is your power’, and ‘Vote is your future’, this campaign is expected to provide voters with overall awareness.

“Special attention will be paid to prevent political parties from misusing State property for election related activities. Misusing government property for canvassing is a punishable offence, subject to a Rs. 100,000 fine and two years imprisonment. “The Commission has the power to stop and seize government vehicles used by any candidate and also take into possession, funds and detain staff used for canvassing,” Deshapriya said, adding that the vision of his Commission was to ensure that the whole country safeguards universal franchise.”

“I will do everything in my power to ensure this,” he asserted.

Meanwhile, the Elections Commission has confirmed that polls to all remaining local government bodies, in addition to the 93 for which nominations have already been called, will also be held early next year with dates for filing nominations fixed for December 18–21 and dates for paying deposits – December 4–20.

This follows the Appeal Court dissolving its stay order on the gazette notification relating to the delimitation committee report on the writ application of six petitioners.

Deputy Commissioner of Elections M.M. Mohamed told the Sunday Observer that they were hoping to hold polls to the 248 remaining local government bodies and an official announcement calling for nominations and deposits will be made tomorrow, December 4.

The Returning Officers will accept nominations from December 18 to December 21 noon, and deposits from December 4 to December 20 noon, on all working days, during working hours, he said.

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