In a shocking development, Elections Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya has made a suspicious attempt to “duck” the growing controversy surrounding the unconstitutional dissolution of Parliament and transfer powers and functions of the independent commission to a “Commissioner General”.
A letter signed by two members of the commission, Deshapriya and Nalin Abeysekera, seeking to transfer the statutory and administrative powers of the commission to Elections Commissioner General M.A. P.C. Perera. The letter says the members of the commission, met on November 10, arrived at an agreement in this regard.
However, Prof. S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole , the third member of the has vehemently refused to sign the document.
Colombo Telegraph learns that Deshapriya has exerted pressure on Abeysekera to resign from the commission. Hoole is also contemplating resignation owing to the disagreement over the document signed by the other two members. The resignation of Abeysekera and Perera will paralyse the Elections Commission as it will have no quorum to appoint a replacement, with the concurrence of the Constitutional Council.
This gridlock will revert the electoral process to the old system where one individual, the Commissioner General, held sway over the proceedings. Strong suspicions have arisen if the document and the ‘architected’ resignations of the members of the Elections Commission was an attempt by Deshapriya to subvert the independent commission and revive the old corrupt system.
This comes against a backdrop where President Maithripala Sirisena has blatantly violated the 19th Amendment to the constitution when he prematurely dissolved Parliament and called for a snap election. The Elections Commission, established under the 19th Amendment, was the only entity that kept hopes of a free and fair elections alive despite brazen attempts by the Executive President to undermine the constitutional provisions. Deshapriya’s move to emasculate the commission and revert to the old system has given rise to the strong speculation that he was operating in sync with Sirisena’s unconstitutional agenda.