Injured fisherman over 600 nautical miles off Lanka brought home – the Island
By Shamindra Ferdinando
Keerthi Tennakoon, former executive director of the CAFFE (Campaign for Free and Fair Elections) Election Monitoring Team, said the Election Commission (EC) was in turmoil with more than a dozen officials transferred under controversial circumstances . Tennakoon, who served as governor of Uva, southern and central provinces during Maihripala Sirisena’s tenure as president, insists the recent wave of transfers and new appointments contrary to established procedures is undermining the vital commission .
Tennakoon, who represented Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) to the EC in the run-up to the last general election in August 2020, said so in response to our questions regarding the raging controversy over the transfer of 15 officials. Tennakoon said ongoing efforts to turn the EC into a puppet should be considered in the context of the enactment of the 20th Constitutional Amendment in October 2020.
The 20th Amendment which was introduced by the Sri Lankan Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) government to the detriment of the 19th, not only weakened the EC but all the commissions and events that took place there were a good example.
The EC includes lawyer Nimal Punchihewa, SB Divaratne, MM Mohommed, KPP Pathirana and Jeewan Thyagaraja. Saman Sri Ratnayake serves as Commissioner General, EC.
Referring to a July 16 statement issued by Ratnayake on behalf of the EC in response to his social media posts (Tennakoon) on July 7 and 15 and former President of the National Movement for Social Justice (NMSJ) Karu Jayasuriya regarding the deterioration of the EC, civil society alleged that the new organization had failed to continue the projects initiated by the previous commission.
Tennakoon alleged that the EC cut a valuable program to educate young voters, commemorate Voters’ Day, activities involving civil society, and events specifically aimed at selected communities.
The 20th Amendment increased the number of Commissioners from three to five to end the crisis caused by the paralysis of the EC by the quorum being three.
The EC explained that those who served the Electoral Department / EC had to move for several reasons, namely that they were not qualified to fill the vacant posts and the lack of vacancies for those qualified for higher posts. . There were a stipulated number of Class 1, Class II and Class 111 posts, in addition to six special grade posts, the EC said, alleging that over the years a rather chaotic situation has been caused by the creation of posts corresponding to the agenda of various interested persons. as well as recruitments outside the old procedures.
The EC stressed that there was absolutely no reason to worry about the former chairman or governor. In fact, corrective action was being taken to streamline appointments, the EC said, saying these political developments exploited to their advantage over the years seemed determined to undermine the new EC.
Informed sources said that over the years various positions have been created within the electoral department / EC as well as at the district level for the benefit of influential people.
Tennakoon said the EC should clearly state the circumstances under which 15 officials have been moved out of the EC in the past seven months or initiate disciplinary action if any of them have done something wrong. Tennakoon asked why T. Henseman, Suranga Ranasinghe, Nalaka Ratnayaka, Dharani Weerasekera, Rajendran Sasilan, Thilina Wickramaratne, Dilip Gamlath, Namal Thalangama, Gayan Pathirana, JU Priyanath, Thilak Kumara, Shanika transferred.
Tennakoon said EC Commissioner General Saman Sri Ratnayake should set the record straight. The outspoken civil society activist said Ratnayake, who also served in the same functions during Mahinda Deshapriya’s tenure as EC chairman, should explain how the conduct of the previous EC caused public anger.
Tennakoon claimed that at present he was not serving any political party or civil society organization. Tennakoon claimed the 17th and 19th Constitutional Amendments were intended to democratize the system. Sadly, some of those who voted for this progressive legislation also raised their hands on what he called “the dictatorial 20th Amendment”.
Tennakoon urged the public to be alert to ongoing efforts to reverse the progress made by the enactment of the 19 in 2015.