Election bribery case against Pohottuwa councillor filed in Moneragala | Sunday Observer

Election bribery case against Pohottuwa councillor filed in Moneragala

In a groundbreaking case filed in the Moneragala High Court, a UNP Local Government election candidate has sought to unseat a Moneragala Pradeshiya Sabha SLPP councillor over allegations of election bribing, moving court over such a case after decades.

The case which was heard on June 5 was fixed for next hearing on June 21.

The UNP candidate Wanasinghe Mudiyanselage Sunil Shantha Wanasinghe who contested for the Moneragala PS, sought to unseat the SLPP councillor claiming that the councillor won the election by bribing the voters in the small electorate of around 3000 voters.

If the petitioner manages to get a conviction under election bribery laws, this case will go in history as the first such case to have deprived the seat of an elected candidate on election bribing after mid 1970s.

The case is supported by leading local polls monitors, People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) and Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV).

“We have nothing personal against this candidate but this case is being pursued by us in the national interest and to set a noble precedent to discourage election period malpractices, especially the bribing of voters which is still a major issue despite it being an offense under the Local Government Elections Act,” PAFFREL Executive Director Rohana Hettiarachchi said.

“This person is not the only candidate who has been accused of bribing voters during the last Local Government Election, polls observers received complaints against UNP candidates, SLFP candidates as well as other SLPP candidates.

But the number of complaints are comparatively higher against him,” he said.The petitioner who is a UNP candidate from Maduraketiya Ward in his election petition to the High Court claimed that during the period from November 28, 2017 to February 10, 2018, the first respondent or his agents distributed money, material and equipment to volunteer organisations, such as village Death Donation Associations with the hope of influencing the voters.

The respondent has also complained that he or his agents facilitated new electricity supply and new water supply connections to certain households in Maduraketiya electoral ward spending their personal funds making pleas to vote for the said candidate or with the hope of obtaining votes.

The accused has denied all the charges against him.At the February 10 LG election the SLPP won with 11 seats followed by UNP 5 seats, UPFA two seats and People’s Liberation Front one seat. In the Maduraketiya electoral ward the SLPP bagged 2157 votes with the UNP coming second in the ward obtaining 855 votes.

The Election Commission, Moneragala Adminsitrative District Returning Officer, OIC Moneragala Police Station and all candidates to the Moneragala PS at the February LG election has been made respondents in the case.

The petition seeks to unseat the accused councillor and appoint the petitioner, the UNP candidate in his place.

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