EC unable to stop illegal campaigning – CMEV

By Rathindra Kuruwita

COVID-19 had made it extremely difficult for the Election Commission (EC) to stop illegal campaigning of candidates, Manjula Gajanayake, National Co-ordinator - Centre for Monitoring Election Violence-(CMEV) alleged yesterday.

Gajanyake told The Island that some unscrupulous candidates had used the crisis situation for political gains.

"Around 7,452 candidates are on the nomination lists, the highest number of candidates contesting a general election ever in the country. Due the spread of COVID-19, the EC is facing a problem of monitoring and taking actions against candidates who are violating elections laws."

The CMEV co-ordinator said that given the current situation, the EC could only investigate allegations of election law violations via telephone, emails and other electronic means as sending officials to look into illegal campaigning was not feasible due to the social distancing requirement.

 "All independent election observation missions have suspended their field observations temporarily and this has allowed unscrupulous candidates to do as they please." 

Gajanayake pointed out that some candidates were distributing dry ratios to constituents and displaying giant cut-outs pledging to defeat COVID-19. At the bottom of those cut-outs, the candidates photos were displayed. "The CMEV has seen boards set up in the Kolonnawa and Yakkala areas."

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