Home / Front Page/ No interest in verifying citizenship status of candidates: Polls Chief

No interest in verifying citizenship status of candidates: Polls Chief


Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Thursday, 14 November 2019 00:30


 

 

  • Says those handing in nominations have to fulfil 1981 Presidential Election Act provisions 
  • EC satisfied with affidavits given by candidates stating they fulfil legal requirements to run for elected office
  • Says 34 others who handed in nominations could have raised objection on nomination day
  • Insists redress must be sought in courts, which are above the EC

     

By Chandani Kirinde

Election Commission (EC) Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya said yesterday that the EC has no interest in verifying the citizenship status of candidates contesting the Presidential Election, as it only accepts nomination papers of those who fulfil the legal requirements to contest the poll.

Election Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya gestures as he speaks during a press conference in Colombo on 13 November 2019 - AFP 



“Our interest is in ensuring that the person handing over the nominations fulfils the provisions of the Presidential Elections Act of 1981, which lays down the grounds for the rejection of the nomination papers.

These include non-payment of the deposit, incomplete or unduly attested nomination forms, if the person does not belong to a political party, nor is a Member of Parliament (MP). These are the conditions a candidate has to fulfil when handing over his or her nomination forms,” Deshapriya said.

The EC Chairman made these remarks at a press briefing when journalists questioned him over the Commission’s role in ensuring that dual citizens, who are constitutionally barred for running for elected office, do not contest the poll.

The EC has been dragged into the controversy over the citizenship status of SLPP’s presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa, with his detractors claiming he has not duly renounced his US citizenship. Rajapaksa’s lawyers have denied the claims, saying that he is now a Sri Lankan citizen and there is no bar to him contesting the election.

Deshapriya said that Rajapaksa and his lawyers met with the Commission in August to discuss the nomination process, election laws etc., and when the question of the disqualification of dual citizens by the Constitution was mentioned, they showed the Chairman and the two other Commissioners, namely N.J. Abeysekara PC and Prof. S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole, a document and said it was Rajapaksa’s US citizenship renunciation certificate.

“They gave a document. I took a look at it and passed it onto Commissioner Abeysekera, who also glanced through, and then Professor Hoole took it and looked at both sides of the document and gave it back. But no one gave any certificate saying it is authentic or not. We have not given any endorsement to any certificate,” Deshapriya said.

“Our (the Commission’s) opinion is we are not interested, and we don’t have to check, because being a dual citizen is not a ground for rejecting a nomination paper under the Presidential Election Act,” he said.

Deshapriya said it is like asking the candidates for their marriage certificate. “We have no power to reject a person’s nomination because he or she is not married. It’s the same with this issue. It must come from the Court which has the power to act in such instances. The Court is above the EC,” he said.

Deshapriya said it is regrettable that the EC has been drawn into this controversy, which was aggravated over the past two days with a telephone recording between Deshapriya and the lawyer for Rajapaksa being leaked online.

“Every person who handed over the nominations gives us an affidavit, saying they have fulfilled the legal requirements to contest the election. We are satisfied with that. We are not interested to check if he or she is a foreign citizen,” he said.

The EC Chairman said that 34 other candidates handed over nominations on the same day, and if there were any issues such as one regarding a candidate’s citizenship, they could have raised objections on that day.

 

Appeal filed to SC against CA order on GR’s citizenship issue


Share This Article

Facebook Twitter


DISCLAIMER:

1. All comments will be moderated by the Daily FT Web Editor.

2. Comments that are abusive, obscene, incendiary, defamatory or irrelevant will not be published.

3. We may remove hyperlinks within comments.

4. Kindly use a genuine email ID and provide your name.

5. Spamming the comments section under different user names may result in being blacklisted.

COMMENTS

Today's Columnists

Making BIMSTEC happen is the role of the business community too

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Simply what is the use of a regional or global trading bloc if the citizens and businesses are not engaged in trade-related activities through such economic corporation? If not, then they become pure political instruments and talk shops for bureaucra


The important role of the new Power and Energy Secretary

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

New President Gotabaya Rajapaksa appointed new secretaries for the ministries. The most important ministry under the current situation is the Ministry of Power and Energy, now including CEB and the petroleum sector. The important position of the Sec


De-stigmatising sexuality education for gender equality – it is a right

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, which fell on 25 November, started the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence. It is an annual international campaign that runs for 16 days until 10 December (Human Rights


Taxes, budgets and greasy fingers

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

There is no doubt that to the average citizen, the recent reductions in various taxes were indeed good tidings. For those earning a fixed income, the tax burden had become intolerable. The new Government’s tax reductions are aimed at relieving the


Columnists More