Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s formal nomination as presidential candidate representing the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna is likely to face several objections at the Elections Commission tomorrow morning, Colombo Telegraph learns.
Rajapaksa, who had to mobilize an army of lawyers to fight a pitched battle in the Court of Appeal over the validity of his Sri Lankan citizenship last week may need assistance to push back against the string of objections likely to arise on nominations day over the ambiguity of his citizenship status, sources told Colombo Telegraph.
However, only the candidate and one other person is permitted to be present during the handing over of nominations, according to the Presidential Elections Act.
Objections to a candidate can be made under Section 14 of the presidential elections Act. The Elections Commission may decide whether to entertain the objection. The Elections Commission is called upon to decide on objections without delay and inform the candidate concerned. Objections can only be made between 9am and 11.30am on nominations day. Objections can only be raised by rival candidates or those who sign nomination papers on their behalf.
The Elections Commission will have to decide whether to accept Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s purported loss of US citizenship certificate as proof of the fact that he is no longer a dual citizen. Dual citizens are barred from seeking election to public office under the terms of the Constitution as amended by the 19th Amendment in 2015.
Rajapaksa claims that on 3 May 2019 his USA citizenship was renounced effective 17 April 2019. However there are no official Government records in Sri Lanka or the US that indicate his renunciation process is complete. When he met the Elections Commissioners on August 26, Rajapaksa showed them his loss of US citizenship certificate. When he was asked about the fake certificate that was being circulated on social media, Rajapaksa told the Commission that the fake document had been circulated by his supporters, and the one he was showing the Commission was the real thing, media reports said at the time. Gotabaya Rajapaksa was accompanied to the Commission by President’s Counsel M. Ali Sabry, who leads his legal team.
The Court of Appeal order was delivered last Friday without detailed reasons for the dismissal of the writ application filed by civil society activists Gamini Viyangoda and Chandraguptha Thenuwara. It is unclear if the petition was dismissed on technical or factual grounds. It is also unclear whether the order will uphold Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s dual citizenship certificate as being authentic and valid. As a dual citizen, he cannot contest Sri Lankan elections, legal experts pointed out.
The Court of Appeal has already unseated one MP for seeking election while holding dual citizenship in the Geetha Kumarasinghe case. The Supreme Court upheld the CA decision in that matter.