The Election Commission of Sri Lanka might announce the winner of the November 16 presidential election but if the top two candidates fail to secure 50 per cent votes for an absolute majority, then the results would be delayed, according to a top official on Friday.

EC Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya said that if the Commission was led to count preferential votes to decide the winner, the results could be announced by November 17 night, the Daily Mirror reported.

Earlier on Thursday, Deshapriya said while explaining the tedious and complex election process to the media that due to the long list of presidential candidates in the fray, the EC had to use three varieties of reinforced cardboard boxes for small, middle-sized and extra-large polling stations.

He further said that the EC has put in place a watertight, anti-malpractice and fool-proof mechanism to prevent so-called “computer gilmart” or election malpractices like stuffing of ballot boxes and impersonation etc.

“At each and every stage, there will be double-checking of ballots at the polling centre, constituency, district, provincial and national levels from villages, electorates, districts, provinces and in the Colombo main operation centre before releasing the official results to the nation through print and electronic media,” Deshapriya added.

Earlier in the day, Sixteen political parties have inked an agreement to back Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa for the November 16 elections.

Mahajana Eksath Peramuna, the Communist Party of Sri Lanka, the Lanka Sama Samaja Party, Democratic Left Front, Jathika Nidahas Peramuna, Pivithuru Hela Urumaya, Ceylon Workers’ Congress, the Eelam People’s Democratic Party, the National Congress, Sri Lanka Mahajana Pakshaya, Deshavimukthi Janatha Pakshaya, United People’s Party, Vijaya Dharanee Mahajana Sabawa, Muthpokkuth Thamil Kacchi, and Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal are also members of the new alliance.

During an event, Rajapaksa, who was also a former Defence Minister said that based on voting patterns seen at the last Local Government Election, he was confident of winning about 56 per cent of the vote.

“Seventeen political parties today joined together to form the SLPFA. If we consider all the votes all of us have secured during the last Local Government Election, we can attract around 56 per cent of the vote at the Presidential Election, which is a very positive sign,” Rajapaksa said.

Sajith is the son of late President Ranasinghe Premadasa, who ruled the country with an iron fist before he was assassinated by a Tamil suicide bomber on May 1, 1993.

(With inputs from IANS)