- If proven, allegation constitutes grave violation of Constitution
- Compromises electoral process, says polls monitor
An independent polls monitor has called on the Elections Commission of Sri Lanka to conduct an independent and impartial investigation into the complaint that former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s name had been
Former Defence Secretary
included in the annual electoral list used for the 2005 Presidential Election, and that he had allegedly cast his vote in the said election, when he was not a Sri Lankan citizen.
The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence said that the allegations, if proven, would constitute a serious violation of the Constitution and the laws of Sri Lanka, and are indicative of acts that compromise the very basis of the electoral process.
“It is incumbent on Mr. Rajapaksa, who aspires to be the eighth Executive President of Sri Lanka, to refute these allegations, and co-operate fully with all investigations. Anything less would bring into question Mr. Rajapaksa’s commitment to Sri Lanka’s sovereignty, its Constitution, and the rule of law,” the CMEV statement said.
The polls monitor added that Rajapaksa’s silence in the face of these allegations, and the allegation that he has failed to renounce his dual citizenship, was extremely problematic. “As a potential candidate for the highest elected office in Sri Lanka, it is incumbent upon him to demonstrate a greater commitment to the electoral process,” the CMEV statement added.
CMEV pointed out that in terms of Article 89(a) of the Sri Lankan Constitution, a person who is not a Sri Lankan citizen is not entitled to vote at a Presidential Election, General Election, or at a referendum. Voting in such a situation is an offense, and is punishable in terms of the Presidential Elections Act No. 15 of 1981, the CMEV said. The CMEV statement added that Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who obtained his US citizenship in in 2003, arrived in Sri Lanka on 4 September 2005 on a tourist visa, and had campaigned / assisted the election campaign of Mahinda Rajapaksa in 2005. This, it is alleged, is an offense in terms of Section 45(1) (a) of the Immigrants and Emigrants Act No. 20 of 1948.
CMEV added that the enumeration process is a constitutionally mandated responsibility of the Elections Commission. “Ensuring that only eligible electors and verified information are contained in the electoral list is essential to ensure free and fair elections. Allegations such as those mentioned above cast serious doubt on the reliability of the enumeration process, and compromise the integrity of the electoral process,” the statement explained.
“Accordingly, it is incumbent upon the Election Commission to conduct a prompt and impartial investigation into these allegations. CMEV is of the view that the swift and impartial interventions by the Elections Commission and other relevant authorities into allegations of malpractice in the electoral process is essential for maintaining the good faith and confidence of the voters in the electoral process,” it added.
Last week, a journalist lodged a formal complaint with the Elections Commission, urging the Commission to investigate how the name of a US citizen entered the 2005 voter register in the Mulkirigala Polling Division.