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    Two wrongs don’t make a right: EC Chairman

    November 03, 2019

    ‘Two wrongs don’t make a right,’ Chairman of the National Elections Commission (NEC) said last week, referring to GMOA president Dr Anuruddha Padeniya’s attendance at the manifesto launch of another Presidential candidate on the heels of the first controversy.Speaking to reporters, Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya said the head of the powerful doctors’ trade union had only attended the second manifesto launch to ‘balance’ his first controversial attendance at the SLPP candidate’s event.

    “He has attended Sajith Premadasa’s manifesto launch as well but that won’t undo the first offence he committed. It will only double the same offence,” Deshapriya said. When the Sunday Observer queried from him as to what action would be taken against Dr Padeniya he said they have initiated an inquiry into the matter.
    When the question was posed to the Chairman at a press conference held at the Elections Commission head office, officials in the room were quick to point out that Dr Padeniya had attended the New Democratic Front (NDF) Presidential candidate’s manifesto launch as well. However, the Chairman correctly pointed out that his appearance at the NDF event does not justify him attending and taking centre stage at the manifesto launch of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa the previous week but that he has committed the same offence twice.
    The circular issued by the EC dated September 18, 2019, addressed to all government institutions regarding the use of movable or immovable property and the role of Government official during the election indicates the limitations on Government officials during election time. It states; “no public officer should be allowed to engage in activities, during working hours or with leave, to promote a political party or a candidate, or work against any political party or a candidate and in the event of any officer engaging in such activity should be subjected to disciplinary action”.
    The circular further states, failing to abide by the regulations tantamount to committing an offence under Article 104(g) of the Constitution and any person convicted will face a penalty of over rupees one hundred thousand or a sentence of imprisonment not exceeding three years. Meanwhile, according to highly placed UNP sources Dr Padeniya was never officially invited to the manifesto launch although several UNP members had tried to obtain an invite for him. Sources accordingly confirmed that Dr Padeniya attended the event uninvited.

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