By Saman Indrajith
Samagi Jana Balavegaya and opposition leader Sajith Premadasa pulled out of the presidential race yesterday (19), following talks with an SLPP delegation led by Dullas Alahapperuma.
The announcement was made hours before parliament was due to accept nominations for today’s (20) vote to elect the new president. Premadasa agreed to receive the nomination as Prime Minister as originally proposed by the breakaway group.
The move took the SLPP by surprise as its general secretary, Sagara Kariyawasam, last Friday declared the ruling party’s support for the interim president.
Interim President Ranil Wickremesinghe, SLPP MP Dullas Alahapperuma and JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake are in the fray.
When the House convened at 10 a.m. yesterday, the Secretary General of Parliament, Dhammika Dasanayake, announced that the process of electing a Speaker, from one of the 225 MPs, would be carried out in accordance with the provisions of the law. No. 1 on presidential elections (special provisions). 2 of 1981, and asked Members to nominate and second suitable candidates.
Opposition leader Premadasa proposed the name of MP Alahapperuma and the proposal was seconded by MP Prof. GL Peiris, who is also president of the SLPP.
House Leader Dinesh Gunawardena nominated Acting Speaker Wickremesinghe for the presidency and he was seconded by Galle District MP Manusha Nanayakkara. Wickremesinghe is the only UNP MP in Parliament.
The name of JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake was proposed by MP Vijitha Herath and seconded by MP Dr Harini Amarasuriya.
The Secretary General of Parliament, Dasanayake, announced that he had officially accepted the three names for the election of the new president.
Since there were no other nominations for the competition, sittings lasted only 10 minutes yesterday and the House adjourned until 10 o’clock today. The presidential election is due to begin at 10 a.m. today, according to a motion put forward by House Leader Gunawardena.
The Secretary General of Parliament will act as returning officer.
Before voting begins, the returning officer shows the empty ballot box to the Members and seals it. The President also has the right to vote in this election. At the start of the vote, the name of each Member, including the President, and the Secretary General, who acts as returning officer, will be called. Then the member must go to the office of the returning officer and obtain a ballot. Next, the member responsible for the ballot will put a short signature with their initials on the back of the ballot. After that, the member who obtained the ballot must go to the voting booth arranged in the middle of the room, mark the ballot and put the short signature of the returning officer in a visible place in the box on the desk. of the returning officer.
Each deputy is entitled to only one vote and the vote must be marked with the number “1” in the box in front of the name of the candidate. There is also an option to mark preferences when there are multiple applicants. Thus, depending on the number of candidates who presented themselves, in the boxes in front of the names of the other candidates for the election, 2, 3, etc., can be marked according to the order of preference.
Here, if an error occurs in the marking of a ballot due to an oversight on the part of a member (the law states that if a member has inadvertently damaged a ballot…), he can be returned to the returning officer and if the returning officer is satisfied, another ballot paper will be issued to him. In addition, the spoiled ballot must be immediately canceled by the returning officer. When the name of a member who has not voted is called a second time before the end of the vote, and if this member does not vote, he is deemed to have abstained from voting.
After the vote, the number of votes cast for each candidate is counted. If a candidate wishes to go to the place where the counting takes place, he has the possibility of doing so or he can designate another deputy to represent him. If a candidate receives more than one third of the valid votes cast, the returning officer, ie the Secretary General of Parliament, immediately announces that the candidate has been elected President. If no candidate obtains more than a third of the valid votes cast, these procedures will be somewhat prolonged. Then, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated from the competition. If each MP who voted as the first preference for the candidate withdrawn from the competition has their second preference, they will be added to the respective candidate. Even if no candidate has obtained more than two-thirds of the valid votes, the candidate who obtained the least number of votes in each calculation is removed from the competition and votes are added to the remaining candidates in the second, third, etc. Even after that, if no candidate has obtained one of the two valid votes, the election official will declare that the candidate who obtained the majority of the votes at the end of the counting as above has been elected to the office of President. Ø Also, when the votes are equal between two or more candidates, a draw will be made at the sole discretion of the election president. In addition, the name of the candidate must be published by the Secretary General in the Official Gazette within three days of the election of the President.