UPFA partners allege SLFP responsible for rejection of LG nomination papers : Sajith, too, accuses Ranil of manipulating process

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Some partners of the SLFP-led UPFA government and the SLFP are on a collision course over the rejection of an unprecedented number of nomination papers for the March 17 local government elections for 301 local government bodies. Ruling party sources say that some powerful SLFP politicians had forced the ‘party machinery’ to alter nomination lists just before they were handed over to respective returning officers, thereby causing discrepancies. Sources alleged that many nomination lists were rejected due to discrepancies caused by SLFP politicians. Sources say the absence of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was away in the US on a private visit, had paved the way for some SLFPers to manipulate the entire process. "Had the President been here, we could have called for his intervention", they said. Ministerial sources said that some of those nominated by UPFA partners in spite of them signing nomination papers had subsequently found that they had been replaced by associates of various powerful politicians.  

Sources said that they had never experienced a similar situation, though there had been previous instances of the names of some of those on nomination lists deleted and various political henchmen introduced. Responding to a query by The Sunday Island, sources said that there had never been malpractices on a large scale.

An irate President Rajapaksa had lashed out at those responsible for what our sources called "shameful conduct of a section of the SLFP Ministers and Deputy Ministers". The President had been particularly harsh on some SLFP lawyers, who had been tasked with preparing nomination lists, sources said.

Sources said that the UPFA should investigate each and every case of rejection of nomination papers to identify those responsible for the shocking situation.

Returning Officers rejected 450 nomination papers filed by the UPFA, the UNP, the JVP, the TNA, the EPDP, the SLMC, the UPF and the NSSP.

The Elections Secretariat received that 2,047 nominations between Jan. 20 and 12 noon on Jan. 27.

Of them, 1,282 nominations had been submitted by political parties and 765 by independent groups. Of that number, 450 nominations were rejected for not meeting the mandatory requirement of 40 per cent youth candidates; not having the nomination papers attested by Justices of the Peace or Commissioners of Oath or duly signed by the general secretaries of recognized political parties or the secretaries of independent groups.

The 450 rejected nomination lists include 148 from political parties and 302 Independent Groups.

Altogether, 1,597 nominations were accepted including 1,134 from political parties and 463 from independent groups.

Sources alleged that the failure on the part of the top SLFP leadership to investigate irregularities and disciplinary action against those responsible could cause friction among partners.

At the last parliamentary election, violence caused by a section of the SLFP in some parts of the Kandy electoral district as well as in Trincomalee compelled the Election Secretariat to call for re-poll. The Election Secretariat blamed the SLFP for malpractices in both districts, though an SLFP inquiry cleared its members of any wrongdoing.

Angry LSSP went to the extent of fielding few independent lists in the wake of SLFP’s refusal to accommodate some of its nominees.

Political sources said that the UPFA couldn’t depend on legal recourse to rectify the problem.  Sources said that the SLFP shouldn’t dictate terms to its partners in spite of it being the single largest party in the coalition.

Meanwhile, the Sajith Premadasa faction, too, has alleged that some its nominees were left out by UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe. Political sources said that this could have an extremely negative impact on the UNP propaganda campaign.

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