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Chair of the Commonwealth Observer Group, Prosper Bani, with Yvonne Apea Mensah, head of Africa in the Commonwealth’s Governance and Peace Directorate

Commonwealth observers at Sri Lanka polling station

Polls open across Sri Lanka

15 November 2019

Polling is under way in Sri Lanka's presidential election, with a Commonwealth team observing the process in six provinces.

The 2019 presidential election is the eighth to be held in Sri Lanka and the first where no sitting president, prime minister or opposition leader is standing.

The polls opened at 7am with lengthy queues forming outside the stations as voters waited for their opportunity to vote. 

More than 12,000 polling stations have been set up across the country, many in schools. 

More than 15 million people have registered to vote with one million first time voters.

Thirty-five candidates are contesting the election, with onlyone female candidate. 

The Chair of the Commonwealth Observer Group, former Ghanaian Minister of Interior, Prosper Bani, was among the first observers to arrive at the Methodist School polling station in Colombo, where he observed opening and voting procedures.

He said: “It’s great to see the enthusiasm of voters who have turned out in significant numbers. 

"I assure all Sri Lankans that the Commonwealth stands in solidarity with them as they cast their votes.”

Votes are being cast at 12,845 polling stations in 22 electoral districts across 25 administrative districts, with provisions to assist voters who are elderly or disabled.

The polls will close at 5pm on Saturday and counting thereafter. 

The candidate with more than half of all valid votes (50percent +1) will be declared the winner. If no candidate secures that threshold, then the two candidates with the highest number of votes in the first count go forward for a second round of counting. In this second round of counting, the second and third preferences already marked by voters are distributed for these two candidates. 

The full list of Observer Group members:

Mr Prosper Bani (Chair)
Former Minister of Interior, Ghana

Mr Paul Dacey
Former Deputy Electoral Commissioner, Australia

Mr Darrell Bradley
President of the Senate, member of Commonwealth Local Government Forum Board, Belize

Ms Sabrina Grover
Strategic Partnerships Advisor, Young Diplomats of Canada

Ms Sarah Fradgley
Media and Communications Expert, New Zealand

Hon Sana Ullah Baloch
Member Balochistan Provincial Assembly, Pakistan

Ms Madeleine Nirere
Chairperson, National Commission for Human Rights Commission, Rwanda

Mr Vijay Krishnarayan
Former Director-General, Commonwealth Foundation, Trinidad and Tobago

Amb Bernadette Olowo-Freers
Former Ambassador, Uganda

Dr Meena Shivdas
International Gender and Development Specialist, United Kingdom

Mr Boniface Cheembe
Executive Director, Southern African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes, Zambia