By Indika Sri Aravinda
The powers vested with the Elections Commissioner have been slashed by the 18th Amendment and powers to issue directives have been limited, Executive Director of the Peoples’ Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL), Rohana Hettiararchchi said.
He said that the Elections Commissioner could only address requests made by an individual or a political party. Apart from political meetings, election laws prohibit the granting of appointments and recruitments in areas where elections are being held. However, PAFFREL says that the holding of state events using public property and giving various gifts to people in areas in the North during the local government election campaign is considered as a bribe given to voters.
The Elections Commissioner does not have the power to act against such incidents and the former Elections Commissioner had failed to take any action against such offenders during elections that were held in the past, Hettiarachchi said. He said that although the organisation has conducted surveys and collected data on the misuse of public property and the actions of the state media during election times, reports have not been able to bring about any positive results.
He added that the Elections Commissioner therefore did not have any power to take direct action against the violation of elections laws during elections.