EC launches probe: Voter fraud complaint against Gotabaya, Medamulana Walawwa | Sunday Observer

EC launches probe: Voter fraud complaint against Gotabaya, Medamulana Walawwa

25 August, 2019

The Elections Commission (EC) has launched an investigation into the allegation that non-Sri Lankan citizens hailing from the Rajapaksa ancestral home in Medamulana had been registered to vote in the 2005 presidential election, according to extracts of the electoral register in the Mulkirigala Polling Division of that year.

The inclusion of non-citizens into the electoral register would be tantamount to voter fraud, a senior official at the Elections Commission told Sunday Observer, speaking on condition of anonymity. “The person to be held responsible would be the house-owner, whose responsibility it is to fill the form accurately,” the official added.

Chairman of the Elections Commission Mahinda Deshapriya told Sunday Observer that the Commission had called for the relevant electoral registers from the Hambantota District Secretariat, in time for its next meeting tomorrow (26).

Deshapriya explained that it was unlikely that the original form filled by householders each year would still be on file in Hambantota, since those documents are destroyed every two years. “What we will get on Monday from Hambantota is the certified register. After studying these documents, if there is a prima facie case, we will forward the matter to the legal department of the Commission to seek advice about the next course of action that we can take as the Commission,” the Polls Commission Chairman told Sunday Observer.

“If there is a prima facie case, law enforcement will have to conduct an investigation,” Deshapriya added.

Last Monday (19), the Elections Commission took up a complaint made by Anidda Deputy Editor Lasantha Ruhunage urging the Commission to investigate whether members of the Rajapaksa family had been unlawfully registered to vote in the 2005 presidential poll. 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. However Sunday Observer learns that Basil Rajapaksa was still at Sri Lankan citizen at the time (2005).

The complainant also called on the Elections Commission to investigate whether the individuals so listed had actually cast their ballots in that poll.

Extracts of the Mulkirigala Polling Division electoral register were first published in the Sunday Observer on August 11, after extensive investigations found that Gotabaya Rajapaksa who renounced his Sri Lankan citizenship 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. The extract published features the name “Nandamithra Gotabaya Rajapaksa” among the electors in the Rajapaksa family home.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa purportedly obtained his dual citizenship 12 days after his brother Mahinda became President on November 18 2005.

Last week the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV), one of the oldest polls monitors operating in the country, urged the Elections Commission to conduct an independent investigation into the voter fraud allegations against Gotabaya and other members of the Rajapaksa family in 2005.

CMEV’s statement said that the allegations, if proven, would constitute a serious violation of the Constitution and the laws of Sri Lanka and are indicative of acts that compromise the very basis of the electoral process. “It is incumbent on Mr. Rajapaksa who aspires to be the eighth executive President of Sri Lanka, to refute these allegations and cooperate fully with all investigations. Anything less would bring into question Mr. Rajapaksa’s commitment to Sri Lanka’s sovereignty, its Constitution and the rule of law,” the CMEV statement said.

The polls monitor added that Rajapaksa’s silence in the face of these allegations and the allegation that he has failed to renounce his dual citizenship, was extremely problematic. “As a potential candidate for the highest elected office in Sri Lanka, it is incumbent upon him to demonstrate a greater commitment to the electoral process,” the CMEV statement added.

Speaking to Sunday Observer, CMEV Convenor Manjula Gajanayake said they would be following up their letter to the Polls Commission with a Right to Information application requesting documentation and reports about whether the former Defence Secretary had cast his vote in the 2005 election.

“The Commission has informed us that it will require more time since the documents are old and will have to located and forwarded. We are hoping the Commission itself will conduct a probe or take action about this issue before we complain to the CID,” Gajanayake added.

He said it was a “grave mistake” made by former Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa as the house owner, as well as the former Defence Secretary.

“The Commission cannot treat this issue trivially. This is a serious offence and it is even more important because the person against whom the complaint has been lodged is a presidential candidate from one of two main parties in the race,” he charged.

Several attempts were made to reach SLPP presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s spokesman for comment proved futile.

Ruhunage who made the complaint to the Commission said that he had been informed that steps were being taken to initiate inquiry about the allegation. “What is most important is to find out whether these votes were cast in the election.

It should not be a difficult thing for the Elections Commission to call for a report from the Controller General of Immigration about whether the members of this household were dual citizens at the time or not,” the Anidda Deputy Editor told the Sunday Observer.