Maithripala echoes Polls Chief
‘Non serious’ presidential candidates a further burden on taxpayer

SLFP General Secretary, Maithripala Sirisena, MP, on Thursday (January 28) echoed Polls Chief Dayananda Dissanayake’s assertion that ‘non serious’ candidates at the recently concluded presidential polls caused unnecessary expenditure.

Agriculture Minister Sirisena said that Constitutional Amendments would be necessary to restrict the number of candidates as the existing laws allow any Sri Lankan to join the presidential fray. He was responding to The Island queries at an UPFA press briefing at the BMICH where he assured that the ruling coalition would rectify its shortcomings and also inquire into allegations levelled by the Opposition during the run-up to the January 26 polls.

Addressing the media a few days before the polls, Dissanayake criticised those who had joined the fray at the taxpayers’ expense. An irate Commissioner said that the ballot paper for the 2010 presidential poll wouldn’t have been 18 and half inches long if there were only major candidates. He said that allocation of free airtime on the SLBC and the State-run Rupavahini, too, would be an additional burden. He pointed out some of the candidates took advantage of a decision to allow them to post ‘propaganda’ material to voters free of charge. Dissanayake asserted that there was absolutely no point in them being allowed to contest.

He revealed that special paper with security features used to print ballot papers was expensive and money could have been saved if they were able to reduce the size of the ballot paper.

Minister Sirisena said that altogether 23 had handed over nominations for the 2010 presidential polls though one was rejected. The Commissioner also dismissed objections raised by another presidential candidate, Sarath Kongahage against Opposition presidential candidate, General (retd) Sarath Fonseka, on the basis of him being a US citizen.

The final result announced by the Election Secretariat underscored the validity of Dissanayake’s argument. The remaining candidates polled a mere 204,494 (1.9 %) of the total polled with Mohamed Cassim Ismail coming a distant third with 39, 226 (0.38 %).

Political sources told The Island that the government and the joint Opposition had fielded proxy candidates to take advantage of free airtime to undermine each other.

Except President Rajapaksa and Sarath Fonseka, who polled 6,015,934 (57.88%) and 4,173,185 (40.15%), respectively, none of the other 20 candidates managed to secure at least 5% of the vote. They forfeited their deposits to the tune of Rs. 1,125,000. The losers are Mohamed Cassim Mohamed Ismail 39,226 (0.38%) Achala Ashoka Suraweera 26,266 (0.25%), Channa Janaka Sugathsiri Gamage 23,290 ( 0.22%), W.V. Mahiman Ranjith 18,747 ( 0.18%), Panagoda Don Prince Soloman Anura Liyanage 14,220 (0.14%), Sarath Manamendra 9,684 (0.09%), M. K. Sivajilingam 9,662 ( 0.09%), Ukkubanda Wijekoon 9,381 ( 0.09%) Lal Perera 9,353 ( 0.09%), Sirithunga Jayasuriya 8,352 ( 0.08%), Vickramabahu Karunaratna 7,055 ( 0.07%), Idroos Mohamed Ilyas 6,131 (0.06%), Wije Dias 4,195 ( 0.04%), Sanath Pinnaduwa 3,523 (0.03%), Myown Mustapha 3,134 (0.03%), Battaramulle Seelarathana Thero 2,770 ( 0.03%), Senaratna de Silva 2,620 ( 0.03%), Aruna de Zoysa 2,618 ( 0.03%), Upali Sarath Kongahage 2,260 ( 0.02%) and Muthu Bandara Theminimulla 2,007 (0.02%).

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