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New Sri Lankan Parliament to meet on Aug 20

A majority of Sri Lankan legislators vote

Colombo, Aug 4 (UITV/IANS)- Sri Lankan President President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has summoned the new Parliament to meet on August 20 after the crucial general elections slated to take place on Wednesday, the Presidents Media Division (PMD) announced on Tuesday.

Rajapaksa has made this decision under the powers vested in him by the Constitution of Sri Lanka and the Parliamentary Election Act, the Daily Mirror quoted the PMD as saying.

The President had dissolved Parliament in March, paving the way for the 16th general elections which were initially scheduled for April 25, but were postponed twice due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Voting to elect a new 225-member Parliament will begin at 7 a.m. on Wednesday and will end at 5 p.m.

The counting of the voted will start at 7 a.m. the following day due to the COVID-19 health regulations, unlike in previous years when counting began the same night as polling day.

The President's Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna party has to win majority (113 seats) in the house in order to secure the government's full control in the semi-presidential representative democracy.

Due to the pandemic, the Elections Commission has said several new health guidelines will be in place to enable voters to cast their ballots on polling day.

Last week, Mahinda Deshapriya, chief of the Election Commission (EC) of Sri Lanka, told the Daily Mirror newspaper that Wednesday's polls would be the most expensive in the history of the island-nation, "as we have to deploy additional staff along with face masks, sanitizers and all other health guidelines".

Deshapriya said the EC was trying to keep the cost at 10 billion LKR and not exceed it.