Colombo, Aug 6 (IANS) Counting of votes cast in Sri Lanka’s 16th general elections was underway on Thursday, a poll official announced.
Election Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya said that the the overall voter turnout in the polls to elect a new 225-member Parliament held on Wednesday amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, stood at 71 per cent, reports the Daily Mirror newspaper.
The counting started a day later due to the COVID-19 health regulations, unlike in previous years when it used to begin on the same night of the polling day.
According to Deshapriya, the winner will be announced on Friday morning.
More than 7,000 candidates contested the elections and over 12,000 polling booths were set up across the country.
An estimated 16.2 million people were eligible to cast their ballots.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa 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.
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.
A day ahead of the polls, Rajapaksa had announced that the new Parliament will convene on August 20.
Last week, Deshapriya 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”.
He said the EC was trying to keep the cost at 10 billion LKR and not exceed it.