Image: Present Election Commissioner Puncihewa is a long time Rajapaksa loyalist.
Senior officials of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka are either stepping down or being transferred and the Election Commission is becoming a puppet of the executive through arbitrary removals and appointments, alleges Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon, a former Governor and former Executive Director of election monitoring organisation CaFFE.
He further says that since the appointment of the present Election Commission only one Party Leaders’ Meeting has been held, even that was to to introduce the Commission. After the meeting to introduce the new commission, no meeting has been held with the election monitors. Permanent representatives of the political parties have never been called for a meeting.
Throughout history, it has been the practice of the Department of Elections / Commission to make decisions in consultation with all parties involved in the electoral process.
Today (15 July 2021) Mrs. P.B.R. Sumangali has been transferred from the Commission. She is the 13th officer to be transferred under the new Commissioner. Under normal circumstances, officers are recruited to the Commission by interviews. So far 7 officers have been recruited for senior administrative posts without any interview.
The Independent Electoral Commissions established by the 19th Amendment to the Constitution have now been replaced by a nominal Election Commission.
Within a short period of setting up the new commission under 20th Amendment, following officials have resigned from the Commission.
- T. Hensman
- Suranga Ranasinghe
- Nalaka Ratnayake
- Dharani Weerasekera
- Rajendran Sasilan
- Thilina Wickramaratne
- Dilip Gamlath
- Namal Thalangama
- Gayan Pathirana
- Administrative Officer J.U. Priyanath
- Accountant Thilak Kumara
- Shanika Ariyaratne
- P.R.B. Sumangali
At present a situation has arisen where the Election Commission becomes a puppet of the executive violating all established traditions of transfers of election officials.
The 20th Amendment curtailed the independent powers of the Election Commission. Now with arbitrarily appointments to the highest positions of the Election Department will destroy the whatever expectations of holding ‘free and fair elections’.
The Election Commission is becoming a puppet of the executive, Rajith Keerthi reiterates.