EC chief asks Gota to help hold PC polls which were caused to disappear


A smiling Head of the Elections Commission, Mahinda Deshapriya yesterday urged president elect, Gotabaya Rajapaksa to hold provincial council elections, which had been made to ‘disappear.’

Addressing a press conference to declare the final result of the presidential election, Deshapriya said that the President had a pivotal role to play in maintaining democratic values, but the responsibility did not lie on his shoulders alone.

Deshapriya said that unless they were given powers to control private electronic media during elections it would be impossible to ensure the free and fair nature of elections. He added that there were two ways to address the biases of the private media.

"One is that we should be given powers to control private media. The other option is to ensure that private media openly declare the political candidate or the party they support. If we can’t do either of these, we might as well allow the media owners to decide what candidates or parties should win elections."

Deshapriya said that a number of private media institutions and one state media station had blatantly violated the EC’s guidelines, but the Commission only had power to take action against state owned media.

All electronic media stations used frequencies belonging to the people but the EC couldn’t stop private media from using the resource that belonged to the people to misinform them, the polls chief said.

"We have powers to punish state officials who violated our directives and we will take action against them," he said.

Deshapriya asked political leaders not to use images of military officers in uniform for propaganda purposes.

He also urged religious leaders not to use places of worship to hold election related events. "Clergy have political rights but should not do political activities violating election laws." (RK)

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