For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya
B. Muralidhar Reddy
COLOMBO: A day after Sri Lankan Election Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake reportedly expressed disappointment over the failure of the authorities to ensure faithful implementation of the election guidelines related to January 26 presidential poll by all the parties in general and the state media in particular, a Colombo-based NGO thinktank on Wednesday cautioned that “impunity surrounding election-related practices”, if further tolerated, could lead to a breakdown of law and order.
The feelings of the Election Commissioner, who is on record several times in recent times on his desire to leave his job after completion of the poll, and the concern of the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) on the atmosphere in the run up were only expected given the high-pitched campaign.
The Tuesday election is not only keenly contested but also could prove to be important in providing direction to several of the political, economic and social issues including the three-decade-old ethnic strife affecting the island nation.
By all accounts it is a straight fight between President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the former Army Chief retired General Sarath Fonseka. Mr. Rajapaksa is seeking a second term two years ahead of his tenure.
The CPA in a statement here said, “The Commissioner of Elections appears to have given up on his attempts to enforce the law in terms of his powers under the Seventeenth Amendment…We unequivocally maintain that the failure and/or refusal of public officials and other persons to follow the directions of the Commissioner and the Competent Authority is a clear breach of a legal duty imposed by the Constitution”.
Meanwhile, the recently released Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Wanni District parliamentarian, Sathasiwam Kanagarathnam, has pledged his support to Mr. Rajapaksa.