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Abuse of state resources Transparency International expresses concerns

27 April 2020 12:01 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


  • one of the  long-standing challenges in Sl elections has been the abuse of  state resources during the campaign period.


By Sandun A. Jayasekera   

The Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) while  expressing its regrets and displeasure over the abuse of state resources  allegedly by the government raised concerns on the extension of the  polling date of the general election by the Election Commission (EC) and  claimed that setting the date for the election for June 20 could be  inconsistent with the Constitution in terms of convening the new  Parliament.    

This, in turn, could call to question the legitimacy of both the election and its ensuing result, the TISL added.   
The Executive Director of the TISL, Asoka Obeyesekere in a  letter to Chairman of the EC, Mr Mahinda Deshapriya with copies to two  other members yesterday said that though the issue of the misuse of  state resources were beyond the mandate of the TISL, it was a concern  that the announced election date (June 20) could be found to be  inconsistent with the Constitution (Art. 70(5)) in terms of convening  the new Parliament and it in turn could be called to question the  legitimacy of both the election and its ensuing result. 

Given the extraordinary times, Transparency International  Sri Lanka (TISL) as an election monitoring organisation focusing on the  abuse of state resources understands the difficult decisions that the  Election Commission has to take. This includes balancing public safety,  the safety of election officials and the need for free and fair  elections, Mr Obeyesekere stressed.   

“We are conscious of the essential relief work which  presently has to take place. We are also aware that one of the  long-standing challenges in Sri Lankan elections has been the abuse of  state resources during the campaign period. In light of relief work  having to take place during the campaign period, we believe the current  circular (2020/03) issued on March 3, on state resource abuse is  inadequate for these exceptional times. The circular itself recognises  the election date as April 25, which was fixed prior to the full  understanding of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact,” he noted.   

“The Commission should therefore consider updating the  circular on state resource abuse, which would incorporate specific  provisions around the current context surrounding relief efforts. This  would aid public servants and observers in distinguishing between relief  work and state resource abuse. This distinction is essential given that  relief work will need to inevitably continue in an efficient and  effective manner during the campaign period. Given the restrictions on  movement, there will be an unavoidable impact on the mobility of  observers at the upcoming genaral election and the deterrent effect on potential  violators by the presence of observers will also be significantly  reduced. This further reinforces the need to update the circular to  ensure public officials and the public were equipped to be ever more  vigilant,” Mr. Obeyesekere emphasised.   

“The TISL hopes that you will consider the matters raised above in ensuring a free and fair election,” Mr. Obeyesekere said.   

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