July 20, Colombo: Election fever gripped Sri Lanka again as over 3,000 candidates from political parties as well as independent groups handed over their nominations yesterday to the upcoming polls for three provincial councils.
Major political parties have already begun their campaigns for the polls to be held on 8th of September to elect members to the North Central, Sabaragamuwa and Eastern Provincial Councils.
The Election Secretariat accepted nominations from 3,073 candidates from 22 parties and 86 independent groups contesting for 108 provincial council seats in seven districts of the three provinces.
Minister Maithreepala Sirisena, the General Secretary of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) which is the main constituent party of the ruling United People's Freedom People’s Alliance (UPFA) assured that the party will commit itself to conduct a free and fair election.
The Minister has said that the party members are advised to conduct the election campaign by setting an example to others. The Alliance has decided to not to hold processions, the Minister has added.
General Secretary of the UPFA, Minister Susil Premajayantha has expressed optimism that the alliance will be victorious with a considerable majority in the Eastern Province and the Council will continue the development undertaken in the region.
Meanwhile, the main opposition United National Party (UNP) has appointed a special four-member committee comprising party leader Ranil Wickremasinghe, deputy leader Sajith Premadasa, Chairman Gamini Jayawickrama Perera and General Secretary Tissa Attanayake, to supervise the election campaign.
Addressing a media briefing today, the UNP leader, who just got elected to lead the party for another six years, said his party will secure victory at the polls this time without a doubt.
He said the party has planned a new programme and will be reaching the people at grassroots level in the three provinces to seek their support.
Justice Minister Rauf Hakeem, the leader of the major Muslim party in the country and the government ally, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), clarifying party's decision to contest Eastern PC polls alone, said the decision was taken after reaching a consensus with the government to safeguard the identity of the party.
He assured the full support of the SLMC to the government with the seats it would secure at the poll. The SLMC will not break the alliance with the government at any cost, the Minister vowed.
Minister Sirisena explaining the situation with the SLMC has said that the government faced a difficulty in accommodating the high number of Muslims eager to contest the polls and therefore the party will be contesting separately. But the Minister asserted that after victory at the polls they will be supporting the government and SLMC stance will not be an obstacle for the election campaign.