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LG polls, Sri Lanka: Gazette published; Monitors want threat investigation expedite; EC counters DG, Information

The gazette notification pertaining to the holding of the Local Government election on 09 March 2023 has been published.

The Local Government notifications have been issued by the respective District Returning Officers for the LG bodies of each district, under Sub-section 38(1)(c) of the Local Authorities Elections Ordinance.

They state that the poll for those local authorities will be taken on March 09, 2023 from 7.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m.

The Chairman of the Election Commission on Monday said that all relevant documents received from District Returning Officers to hold the Local Government Election on March 09, were sent to the Government Printer to be gazetted.

The Department of Government Information (DGI) had stated recently that the Gazette notification to commence the Local Government (LG) Election process, with the signatures of the Chairman and other members of the Election Commission, has still not been sent to the Government Printer for publication.

However, when inquired by Ada Derana, a spokesperson from the Election Commission had stated that there is no such requirement for the members of the Election Commission to send a Gazette notification to be published regarding the LG election process.

Furthermore, the Election Commission stated that the relevant documents will be issued by the District Returning Officers and that it will be issued within the couple of days.

More than 80,700 candidates will be contesting for 339 local government bodies at the election.

According to the Election Commission, these candidates belong to 58 registered political parties and 329 independent groups.

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Election monitors call on IGP to expedite investigations into threats against EC members, Tuesday, 31 January 2023

Independent election monitoring organisation People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) has written to IGP C.D. Wickramaratne, calling on the Police Chief to expedite investigations into the threats received by members of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka.

In the letter dated 30 January, PAFFREL while thanking the IGP for providing the necessary security to members who recently received death threats, they also expressed their disappointment in the failure of the Police to make any arrests in connection to the incident.

“It (the failure) is now being ridiculed by the person who issued the threat. Though the person who issued the threat is doing it from abroad it is clear he is receiving some support from Sri Lanka,” it said. The organisation noted that someone had taken images of the vehicles and homes of certain commissioners and forwarded them through a messaging application.

“It is noted this has occurred on several instances. Investigating how the phone connection was paid for may also reveal some information,” it said.

PAFFREL said the delay to apprehend those responsible is a continuing threat to the members of the EC and would hamper them from carrying out their duties. The election monitors said the delay in conducting investigations would lead to a breakdown of public confidence while also harming the reputation of the Sri Lanka Police. The organisation therefore called on the IGP to look into the matter and order for the investigations to be expedited.

FT

DG Information ignorant of basic election laws and regulations: ECSL

by PRIYAN DE SILVA

The Election Commission (EC) has expressed its disappointment at controversial statements made by some public officials about elections. It says some top government official, including the Director General of Government Information, are not familiar with the basic election laws and regulations laid down in the Constitution.

The EC says it may be due to his ignorance that the Director General of Government Information has issued the Special News Release, on 29 January, claiming that ‘the gazette notification, with the signatures of the Chairman, and other members of the Election Commission, required for the commencement of the Local Government Election process, has not yet been sent to the Government Press for printing’. The EC has said such notices have to be signed and sent by the relevant Returning Officers in accordance with section 38 of the Local Authorities Election (Amendment Act) No 16 of 2017, and not by the members of the EC.

The EC has confirmed that the notices from the Returning Officers were sent to the Government Press on Monday (30).

The EC’s Media release also points out that the DGI may be unaware that Article 104GG of the Constitution states that if any public official refuses or fails without a reasonable cause to comply with the Commission he or she has committed an offence.

Article 104GG of the Constitution says: (1) Any public officer, any employee of any public corporation, business or other undertaking vested in the Government under any other written law and any company registered or deemed to be registered under the Companies Act, No. 7 of 2007, in which the Government or any public corporation or local authority holds fifty percent or more of the shares of that company, who – (a) refuses or fails without a reasonable cause to cooperate with the Commission, to secure the enforcement of any law relating to the holding of an election or the conduct of a Referendum; or (b) fails without a reasonable cause to comply with any directions or guidelines issued by the Commission under sub-paragraph (a) of paragraph (4) or sub-paragraph (a) of paragraph (5), respectively, of Article 104B, shall be guilty of an offense and shall on conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding one hundred thousand rupees or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or to both such fine and imprisonment.”

The Island

31.01.23

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