For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya
By Kelum Bandara
Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake has instructed senior government officials including Ministry Secretaries not to make media statements advantageous or disadvantageous to any of the candidates in the fray, officials said.
The instruction has also been issued by the Commissioner in a gazette notification to the Central Bank Governor, commanders of the three armed forces and the IGP as well. According to the regulations, none of these officials could participate in TV programmes and talk shows as well.
The copies of this circular had been sent to Presidential Secretary Lalith Weeratunga and all the Ministry Secretaries.
The decision has been taken amidst allegations that some government officials are making media statements in favour of the ruling coalition.
Earlier, the Commissioner issued guidelines for the media to be followed in the run up to the election while exploring the possibility of appointing a Competent Authority for the State media.
Besides, he has taken measures to bring several teams of foreign election observers from the Commonwealth Union and the UN to ensure a free and fair election. He also made a request from the European Union in this regard. However, the EU has ruled out the possibility of sending election observers due to budgetary and time constraints.
Meanwhile, JVP parliamentary group leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake said yesterday that the Commissioner had given instructions to the authorities concerned not to reduce the security of Opposition Common Candidate Gen. Sarath Fonseka.
Mr. Dissanayake said that the Commissioner had ordered not to reduce the number of vehicles provided for Gen. Fonseka.