Chairman of the Elections Commission Mahinda Deshapriya has awarded the right to monitor social media during the upcoming Presidential election to the Information Technology Society of Sri Lanka (ITSSL), an organisation with strong links to the ultra-nationalist group, the Body Bala Sena (BBS).
ITSSL Chairman Rajiv Yasiru has worked for several years for the BBS, managing its digital and social media. He has since attempted to forge a career for himself at the intersection of social media and technical translations.
Yasiru has also been working for many years to gain access to social media giants, registering protest in 2018 that he was not invited for talks with Facebook officials and Secretary to the President, Austin Fernando when the tech company sent representatives to Sri Lanka in the aftermath of racial riots in the Kandy districts, exacerbated to a large degree by the BBS itself.
Deshapriya, who was hailed for his independence during the 2015 elections, seems to have a different agenda this season and is already mired in controversy after it was revealed that several friendly overtures were made to presidential hopeful Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The fact that he has awarded the rights to monitor social media during the election to an organisation linked to the BBS has raised serious questions.
The Elections Commissioner Chairman has also been slow to act on allegations of voter fraud brought against Gotabaya Rajapaksa, and has previously been accused of manipulating and leak information to the media before making decisions with the rest of the Commission or issuing officials publications.
Reports are that the Elections Commission Chairman has also promised Gotabaya Rajapaksa that he will hold the election on November 23, a date considered favourable and auspicious by astrologers for the SLPP presidential candidate.
Elections Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya has thus far failed to respond to questions posed by this platform. (By Lakshman Jayaweera)