EC seeks explanation from President’s Secy, Defence Secy | Daily News


 

EC Chairman raps SLPP for use of military chiefs in campaign adverts :

EC seeks explanation from President’s Secy, Defence Secy

Non-use of military personas, events, in campaigns already agreed:
Election Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya addressing the media testerday. Picture by Vipula Amerasinghe
Election Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya addressing the media testerday. Picture by Vipula Amerasinghe

Election Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya has asked for explanations from the Secretary to the President and the Secretary to the Defence Ministry regarding the use of quotes and photograph of the incumbent Army Commander in an election campaign advertisement of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna in support of its presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Disclosing this at a news conference yesterday, the ECC remarked that he was “surprised” that the Army Commander had not yet issued a statement clarifying the matter and indicating that he had no prior knowledge of this violation of election norms. He said he had also expected that candidate Gotabhaya Rajapaksa would also make a public statement on the matter but he had yet to do so.

Writing to SLPP Secretary and Presidential candidate Gotabhaya Rajapaksa’s Polling Agent Sagara Kariyawasam on Tuesday, Deshapriya has asked for explanations before next Monday (21).

The letter has been copied to SLPP National Organiser and former MP Basil Rajapaksa.

Non-Cabinet Minister Ajith P Perera on Monday lodged a complaint at the Election Commission regarding the Rajapaksa’s full-page campaign advertisement posted in a weekend newspaper including photographs and supportive comments by Army Commander Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva and retired military officers who are former heads of forces.

While strongly advising against using serving or retired military personnel for promoting any candidate or a political party, the Chairman expressed his surprise that neither Presidential candidate Rajapaksa nor the Army Commander had so far stated that it was published without their knowledge or consent.

“It is unacceptable to use a statement and picture of serving military officer, who is in uniform, for a campaign advertisement. This sets a very bad precedent, and it should not happen in a democratic civilised society,” Deshapriya said in the letter.

He said there had been agreement during previous Party Secretaries’ and Candidates’ meetings over not using reports related to protracted armed conflict in the country, valiant acts in the battle field, or pictures of military personnel or public servants for promotion of any candidate or party. He added that the set of media guidelines issued by the Election Commission also states that the public servants’ pictures must not be used in election propaganda.

The Chairman in his letter urged to stick to these regulations and communicate the same to all the party supporters, especially those who operate the Candidate’s propaganda activities in the mainstream media and the social media. The Chairman stressed that it is important to ensure a free and fair election and to create a better political culture.

The Chairman requested swift action towards his letter and to keep him informed of the actions taken.

Meanwhile, addressing a press conference at the Election Secretariat premises yesterday, Deshapriya said that he had also sought explanation from the Secretary to the President and the Defence Ministry Secretary with regard to the advertisement. He said that he expects the Army Commander to make a statement in that regard.

 


Civil Society groups watching over media

Gayan Kumara Weerasinghe

Election Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya said Civil Society Organizations had informed him that they would file legal action if media organizations, that violate the media guidelines during the election period, were not controlled. Deshapriya said that the Election Commission too would support the cases if Civil Society groups go before court.

He pointed out that all state and private media organisations are bound to adhere to media guidelines issued by the Commission during an election period.

He said the set of media guidelines were drafted with wide consultation of both the state and private media personnel.

Speaking at a media conference at the Election Secretariat premises yesterday, Deshapriya said publishing unverified news stories and publishing defamatory stories must be refrained. He said the relevant writer, the Editor as well as the owner of the news media must be responsible for any false report.

He also stressed that he would take stern actions if the State media fail to be impartial.

 

 

 

 

 


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