By Nirmala Kannangara
The National Identity Card (NIC) used by Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) presidential hopeful Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa to register as an elector in the 2017, 2018 and 2019 electoral lists had been invalidated by the Department for Registration of Persons (DRP) in October 2016, Daily Mirror learns.
A senior official from DRP explained to that the procedure was necessary for persons who lose Sri Lankan citizenship by becoming foreign citizens, and later to regain citizenship by becoming dual citizens under Section 19 (2) of the Citizenship Act No. 18 of 1948.
Mr. Rajapaksa has said he lost his Sri Lankan citizenship in 2003 when he became an American citizen, and that he regained it by becoming a dual citizen in 2005 prior to becoming Defence Secretary.
According to DRP records, Mr. Rajapaksa had in October 2016 surrendered his NIC, bearing a number ending with ‘4021V,’ to obtain a new identity card on the basis that he was a dual citizen. He was then issued a new NIC bearing a number ending with ‘10010.’
Upon a review of voter registration records for the Kotte polling district, where Mr. Rajapaksa has been registered to vote from Grama Niladhari Division 526/A in Gangodawila South since he ceased to be Defence Secretary, found that the presidential hopeful was registered by the first name on his household list using his invalidated NIC for the years 2017 and 2018.
Online records of the Elections Commission draft registry for year 2019 show that Mr. Rajapaksa has also used the invalidated NIC to register in the most recent electoral list from the same address at which he was registered in 2017 and 2018. A search for Mr. Rajapaksa’s valid NIC issued in 2016 in the most recent three electoral registers turned up no results.
The DRP official told that it was a serious violation of law for a person who had obtained a new NIC using the dual citizen procedure to thereafter continue using the previous NIC that had been surrendered for any purpose whatsoever.
When contacted MP Keheliya Rambukwella – the Media Spokesman for Gotabaya Rajapaksa – he said he was unaware and had to consult Mr. Rajapaksa’s lawyers to comment since this was a legal issue.
A search for valid NIC in recent three electoral registers turned up no results