Independent election monitors in Sri Lanka have pointed out to Election Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya that the commencement of the South Asian Beach Sports Festival in Hambantota coincides with the local government elections on Saturday.
People’s Action for Free and Fair Election (PAFFREL) Executive Director Rohana Hettiarachchi has said that following concerns raised, Deshapriya has requested the organisers of the event to commence the festival after polling closes on Saturday.
Hettiarachchi has said that the matter was raised with the Elections Commissioner since there was a possibility of the festival being used for election propaganda by the ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA).
Meanwhile, the Campaign for Free and Fair Election (CaFFE), Director, Keerthi Tennekoon has said that he too would take up the matter with the Elections Commissioner.
He has said that several opposition political parties had complained about the beach sports festival since it would be used for election propaganda as a large number of ministers and state officials are expected to participate. The Deputy Leader of Sri Lanka major opposition United National Party (UNP) Sajith Premadasa has raised his concerns to the Election Commissioner last month pointing out that polling centers of Hambantota Municipal Council are in close proximity to the venue of the South Asian Beach Sports Festival and the arrangements of the festival will affect the voters. Sri Lanka is to hold the first South Asian Beach Games in the southern city of Hambantota from 8 - 14 October.
Authorities expect nearly 1,000 athletes and other sports personnel representing SAARC countries to flock to the area to participate in the festival.