2005 voter fraud allegation: Gota tells EC: “Let it go!” | Sunday Observer

2005 voter fraud allegation: Gota tells EC: “Let it go!”

1 September, 2019

A week after the National Elections Commission launched an inquiry into a complaint that the names of several foreigners in the Rajapaksa family had been included in the 2005 Mulkirigala Polling Division electoral register, the SLPP presidential hopeful has asked the commission to ‘let it go’, authoritative sources told Sunday Observer.

SLPP Presidential hopeful Gotabaya Rajapaksa paid a call on the Elections Commission last Monday with his Certificate of Loss of US nationality and his Sri Lankan dual citizenship certificate in tow, to show these documents to the Commissioners.

When the Commissioners made inquiries about the official complaint about illegal entries in the Medamulana voter’s list in 2005, the former Defence Secretary urged the Commission to let the issue slide, since the householder Chamal Rajapaksa had “not been aware” of Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s US citizenship status at the time, the Sunday Observer reliably learns. The presidential hopeful insisted that the entry had been an oversight, rather than a deception, the sources said.

The Elections Commission has made itself available to presidential hopefuls every Monday. On August 26, Rajapaksa called the Chairman of the Commission and requested to meet with the Commissioners at 2PM, Sunday Observer learns. Rajapaksa’s attorney President’s Counsel Mohammed Ali Sabry accompanied him to the meeting, it is learnt.

Sunday Observer learns that when the SLPP candidate presented his certificates for the Commission’s perusal, at least one of the commissioners were of the opinion that accepting the documents would be tantamount to interfering with the election, since the presidential poll had not yet been declared.

Meanwhile questions have also been raised about claims the former Defence Secretary made before a group of SLPP local councilors last week regarding his Certificate of renunciation of US nationality. Rajapaksa told the local councilors on August 22 that the US Embassy had handed over the certificate to him on April 17, 2019. “The United States embassy handed over the certificate of renunciation to me on April 17. This certificate was then forwarded to the Department of Immigration and Emigration and my previous passport issued to me while I was a dual citizen was cancelled. This matter has been resolved in the proper way without any issue,” he said.

However in the certificate published in the media that Rajapaksa supporters have claimed is authentic, the US State Department seal approving the renunciation is clearly dated May 3, 2019. Once a US citizen takes an oath of renunciation, the certificate is then dispatched to Washington DC for State Department approvals, diplomatic sources told Sunday Observer.

It is subsequently returned to the US Embassy for handing over to the holder of the certificate. Gotabaya Rajapaksa could not have the certificate of renunciation in his hand on April 17, since this couriering back and forth between DC and Colombo would have taken weeks, if not months given administrative delays. Sources close to Rajapaksa have claimed that he obtained the certificate of renunciation only in July this year, according to a report in the Anidda weekly newspaper.

However his new passport was reportedly issued on May 7, 2019.

It is unclear how he produced his Certificate of Renunciation to the Immigration authorities by that date if the document was in Washington DC at the time.

“May 3 was a Friday. If as Rajapaksa claims he received the certificate by May 7 the only explanation is that the US State Department has deviated from its normal procedure and has taken steps to send the certificate of renunciation on the same day that the oath of renunciation was made by Rajapaksa.

Also that the receiving of the certificate and submitting the application to the immigration and emigration department obtaining approval and issuance of the new passport had to be done before 3 pm on 7 May,” the newspaper report observed.