“Government has taken steps to ensure free and fair elections” – President

(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –President Maithripala Sirisena says that the present Government has taken steps to establish a strong foundation for the free and fair elections in the country through the 19th Amendment to the constitution while ending the corruption that prevailed in the election system of the country before 8th of January, 2015.

He made these remarks participating in the inauguration ceremony of the Asian Electoral Stakeholder Forum held in the Galadari Hotel, Colombo, today (27).

Expressing his views the President further said that, the objective of the present Government is to ensure the democracy in the country by holding all the elections of the country independently in a free and fair manner.

President Sirisena recalled prior to 08 January, 2015, the election system of the country was corrupted and mentioned how the state media institutions were used violating the election rules in the 2015 Presidential Election and the way public funds were destroyed by using the treasury for the victory of the election.

President Sirisena said that today Sri Lanka is a country which has a strong democratic foundation as well as a country which strengthened the fairness and unbiased nature of the judiciary and further said that according to the latest reports of the Asian countries Sri Lanka has reached a high position when considering the impartiality in the judiciary.

The President also said that the Elections Commission has been empowered to conduct impartial and free and fair elections, free of corruption.

In order to secure the broad establishment of democracy and security when holding elections within the region, the Asian Electoral Stakeholder Forum is held to come in to terms with a common agreement which can influence the active stakeholders within Asia and outside the region.

This Conference creates a platform to hold a broad discussion on the elections and democracy within the region where it can be considered as a broad collection of the region connected with elections. This year the 4th Conference of Asian Electoral Stakeholder Forum will be taking place and it is the first time this kind of Conference held in South Asia. The Election Commission of Sri Lanka and Asian Network for Free Elections holds sponsorship for this event.

Invitees from 45 countries were present in the conference held under the theme, “A Collective effort for a broad establishment of democracy and security in election with transparency of excellence and order” where more than 15 Asian Regional Electoral Commissions, more than 100 election monitoring organisations worldwide, a number of foreign Embassies and High Commissions in Sri Lanka, Governmental and Non-Governmental organizations, United Nation and Inter-Regional agencies were present in this event.

Critical issues such as the current democratic status of Sri Lanka, the Challenges and the process of elections of the region and fine approaches that can be utilise to upgrade the process of elections will be broadly discussed in the Conference. The Conference will conclude tomorrow.

The book, “From Donoughmore Constitutional Systems to Election Commission Systems” was presented to President Sirisena by Election Commission Chairmen Mahinda Deshapriya. Attorney-General Jayantha Jayasooriya, Election Commission Chairmen Mahinda Deshapriya, Executive Director of PAFFREL Rohana Hettiarachchi, Asia representative for free media network Damaso Magdualz and others were present in this event.

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