For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya
By Yohan Perera
Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake has informed the opposition that he would seek foreign monitors for the general and presidential elections that are likely to be held in the future.
The Commissioner had given this assurance when he met some opposition members, including the UNP and SLMC leaders, at the polls secretariat yesterday.
UNP Deputy Leader Karu Jayasuriya, who spoke to the journalists after the meeting with the polls chief, said he had assured them that foreign monitors would be sought to ensure a free and fair election. This assurance had been given consequent on a request made by the party leaders.
Mr. Jayasuriya said they had expressed their suspicions over the holding of the presidential and the general elections together. According to Mr. Jayasuriya, the polls chief had said that holding the two elections together would be a difficult and expensive exercise.
Attention has also been focussed on counting the votes at the polling station itself (at the coming elections) and also on providing maximum security for the transportation of ballot boxes to the counting centres in the event that a decision is made to use such centres.
The UNP deputy leader said they had also spoken at length on the media campaigns of the ruling party. “We have complained about the attacks that were unleashed on the opposition by the ruling party using state media during the recent elections, and requested the Elections Commissioner to take some effective steps to prevent them,” he said.
Mr. Jayasuriya said they had requested the Elections Commissioner to see that his orders regarding the media campaigns were observed strictly from nomination day itself. The polls chief had responded positively to this request according to Mr. Jayasuriya.
The UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake, the party’s Colombo District Leader Ravi Karunanayake and SLMC General Secretary Hassan Ali participated in the talks which had lasted for more than one hour.