The elections to the Southern and Western Provincial Councils have just been concluded. People were able to witness some violence although no major incidents were reported. As in many other elections in the recent past, the candidates carried out their elections campaigns insulting the intellect of the general public while breaking most of the rules imposed by the Elections Commissioner.
In this backdrop Democratic Party Leader Sarath Fonseka is reported to have described Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya as a ‘scarecrow made of hay’ who did little against the perpetrators who blatantly violated election laws. People would see a point in Foneseka’s allegations if they recollect the number of election law violations they saw while going to work during the last few months.
But then again, can we put the blame solely on the Elections Commissioner for this situation? Given the current political context the elections are held, it is not at all reasonable. The Elections Commissioner who appears to be a respected public official with a good track record was seen trying his best to hold a free and fair election within boundaries his jurisdiction allowed him to. However, unfortunately this was not enough.
"In response to Fonseka’s allegations, the Elections Commissioner clearly explained the limitations he has to operate within and like his predecessor urged the need to appoint an Independent Elections Commission"
In response to Fonseka’s allegations, the Elections Commissioner clearly explained the limitations he has to operate within and like his predecessor urged the need to appoint an Independent Elections Commission, which was provided in the 17th Amendment to the Constitution.
But, there does not seem to be even the remotest possibility that the Mahinda Rajapaksa-led government is going to implement the 17th Amendment to the Constitution and thereby introduce an Independent Election Commission. Nor there will be a Judicial Commission or a Police Commission.
As a result of this, a question will always arise about the credibility of the elections that have already been held and the ones that are going to be held in the future. It is believed that the Uva Provincial Elections are just round the corner.
The need for independent elections, judicial and police commissions is now being felt more than ever given the visible deterioration of these institutions. Besides, the pressure on Sri Lanka by the international community is mounting on issues that centre on good governance, accountability, rule of law and human rights.
Therefore we urge the government to take necessary steps to appoint these independent commissions as soon as possible to ensure free and fair elections and good governance.