Gota on Mulkirigala electors list in 2005: Polls Commission to discuss complaint tomorrow | Sunday Observer

Gota on Mulkirigala electors list in 2005: Polls Commission to discuss complaint tomorrow

18 August, 2019

Ex Defence Secretary became a US citizen in 2003; name on 2005 voter register:

Purportedly did not obtain dual citizenship until after November 2005 election:

Complainant says will ‘observe’ attitude of EC and authorities towards alleged offences by Lanka’s most powerful family:

A new front has opened up on the legal battleground ensnaring SLPP presidential hopeful Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who is on trial for corruption and criminal misappropriation of public funds, and also facing fresh investigations into the legitimacy of his passports and Sri Lankan citizenship.

On August 19, the Elections Commission will study a formal complaint lodged by a journalist pointing to the fact that several members of the Rajapaksa family who were not Sri Lankan citizens were registered to vote in the 2005 presidential election, according to extracts of the electoral register in the Mulkirigala Polling Division of that year.

Journalist and Deputy Editor of the Anidda newspaper Lasantha Ruhunuge lodged a formal complaint requesting the Elections Commission to investigate whether members of the Rajapaksa family had unlawfully been registered to vote in the 2005 presidential election. The complaint said that Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa (male) No 130, Ioma Rajapaksa (female) No 131, Dudley Piyasiri Rajapaksa (male) 139 and Basil Rohana Rajapaksa (male) were listed as electors in the Register published by the Elections Department for the Mulkirigala Polling Division, Weeraketiya, Medamulana area. These individuals were not Sri Lankan citizens at the time, the complaint added.

 The complainant calls on the Elections Commission to take action against the head of the household, investigate whether the individuals so listed had actually cast their ballots in that poll, and urges that if persons had cast votes without the right to do so, that action be taken against them.

Speaking to the Sunday Observer, Elections Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya said the complaint had been received by all three members of the Commission last Wednesday (14), and would be taken up when the Commission next meets tomorrow (19). Former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa was anointed SLPP presidential candidate last Sunday (11).

A Sunday Observer investigation found that Gotabaya Rajapaksa who became a US citizen in January 2003, was registered to vote in Medamulana, in the Mulkirigala Polling Division in the November 2005 presidential election, when his brother Mahinda, was standing as a candidate in the race.

Last week, this newspaper published an extract of the Mulkirigala Electoral Register, which features the name “Nandamithra Gotabaya Rajapaksa” among the electors in the Rajapaksa family home. At the time, the former Defence Secretary was not a citizen of Sri Lanka, having purportedly obtained his dual citizenship only on November 30, 2005, after Mahinda Rajapaksa was installed as president.

By his own admission in an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, Gotabaya Rajapaksa arrived in Sri Lanka in late 2005 to ‘assist’ his brother Mahinda’s presidential election campaign. He did so on a tourist visa, since at the time he was an American citizen. After his brother became President on November 18, 2005, Gotabaya Rajapaksa purportedly applied for and obtained dual citizenship

Rationalising its decision to lodge an official complaint, the Anidda newspaper’s editorial board said manipulating or forging documentation is in itself a grave crime, since it paves the way for a multitude of other offences relating identity certification. “The fact that false information had been entered into an electoral register is even more heinous when it has purportedly taken place in the household of the then Prime Minister who was also contesting for the presidency,” the newspaper said, adding that the complaint should be taken seriously. “If no action is taken, a bad precedent will be set for elections to come,” it added.

The newspaper asserted that it would closely observe the action taken by the Elections Commission with regard to the complaint. “This has happened in a household consisting of a former President, Speaker of Parliament and a former defence secretary who is also currently running for president, and therefore, it remains to be seen if the Commission will take action with regard to such a serious complaint made against Sri Lanka’s most powerful family,” Anidda added.