Election monitoring body – the People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) filed a motion in the Supreme Court today over the distribution of drought relief to families in Moneragala, which Basil Rajapaksa managed to get sanctioned by the judiciary overriding directives given by the Elections Commissioner to halt the distribution since it could amount to voter bribery.
In the motion filed today, PAFFREL has requested the Courts to consider varying the orders made in the case heard on September 12 that permitted the distribution of drought relief, to be completely stopped and to be resumed once more when the election concludes.
Pointing out the distribution of drought relief in the form of Rs. 2500 per family in the Moneragala district has undermined the integrity and impartiality of the Uva Provincial polls, PAFFREL has requested the SC to also consider distributing drought relief to families in all drought affected districts in the same manner like Moneragala as an alternative to putting a complete stop to the distribution of reliefs.
In the motion PAFFREL has asserted that considering the Uva PC polls are to be held on September 20 and the heavily contested campaigning that is continuing and the initial plans of the Economic Development Ministry to distribute Rs. 2500 per family, singling out Moneragala creates doubt that these reliefs are being used as a political tool by the UPFA since no such relief has been provided to any other drought affected district to which includes Batticaloa, Polonnaruwa and Hambanthota.
PAFFREL has noted that vital material relevant to the distribution of drought relief to Moneragala residents had not been disclosed before the Courts while also stating that the petitioners have failed to make the necessary parties such as the Elections Commissioner and the Disaster Management Ministry Secretary, included in the application.
Against such a backdrop, the election monitoring body has noted that the permission granted by the SC to distribute the drought relief has undermined the powers of the Elections Commissioner who is vested with the authority to give directions to maintain a free and fair election.
While also requesting the Court to instruct the Respondents to outline the criteria adopted in selecting the beneficiaries to distribute the respective reliefs in the district, PAFFREL has requested the SC to direct that in the future elections no such reliefs – whether relating to any disaster or not – be distributed during an election campaign without prior approval obtained from the Elections Commissioner.
Read the full petition here