Political parties blame EC for campaign restrictions

(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –Representatives of frontline political parties in individual interviews with the Daily News yesterday, blamed the Elections Commission for the massive restrictions which have been imposed in the run up to the August 5 Parliamentary elections in the backdrop of COVID-19.

The rules of the Elections Commission in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic prohibits having election offices for political parties and individuals, cutouts and other propaganda materials, door to door campaigns and numbers exceeding 100 for each of the Party meetings and others. The display of preferential numbers (Manape) will also not be permitted except under very limited circumstances.

They claimed that the contesting candidates have no way of disseminating their preference numbers among the voters.

They said communication through advertising in both the electronic and print media will be prohibitively expensive and questioned whether it could have the desired reach and accessibility to the voters and added that only the rich candidates could afford them.

SLPP General Secretary Sagara Kariyawasam said:” It is true that the elections campaign is being done under the COVID 19 restrictions, but although we have not suffered as a Party, it is the new candidates who will suffer with their inability to make their preference numbers known.”

“The Elections Commission should create an equitable mechanism and also allow a liberal campaign which will serve everybody’s interests,” Kariyawasam said.

UNP General Secretary Akila Viraj Kariyawasam said that this system was unfair and that the Party had appealed to the Elections Commission but to no avail.

Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) General Secretary Ranjith Madduma Bandara also echoed the same sentiments, but added that their real competition was the SLPP and not with the UNP.

JVP MP and Politburo member Sunil Handunnetti said: “To whom are we to complain and to whom can we turn for justice ? The Government has used its full machinery to promote their members, but the Opposition is hopelessly helpless”.

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