“An election is a collective mission,” – Mahinda Deshapriya

The Chairman of the Election Commission Mahinda Deshapriya commended the outgoing President Maithripala Sirisena for maintaining an unbiased stance during this tight competition between two frontrunners.

Deshapriya stated this addressing the presidential candidates and the political party representatives during a media briefing held at the Election Commission to officially announce the winner of the Presidential Election 2019.

He also appreciated the presidential candidates, political party representatives and the respective party leaders and secretaries, the supporters of the contenders who steered their election campaigns for paving way for a fair election.

Deshapriya also thanked Sri Lanka Police, the Tri-forces, civil organizations, election monitoring groups, professionals, public sector officers, media persons and institutions, above all the all the voters across the country in this regard.

“An election is a collective mission,” Deshapriya continued.

The Election Commission chairman further stated, in this presidential vote, they have failed in several aspects.

He mentioned the failure to control the behavior of private and State media because of the lack of laws to take action in this regard.

“Although we can control state media behavior, private media are not under our authority,” the Chairman said adding that the Election Commission could not prevent private media from manipulating the public opinion and that one state media also behaved in the same manner.

He said legal action can be taken against State media persons who violated laws as per the regulations of the Election Commission and the Constitution.

“Laws must be enforced so that legal action can be sought against such private media institutions as well or it must be mandated to announce their political stance during elections,” Deshapriya pointed out.

He remarked that the Election Commission had not received any complaints regarding the Police or the Tri-forces engaging in political campaigns.

However, complaints were received on public servants misusing state property for election campaigns, the Chairman said adding that legal action will be taken against them according to the Establishments Code and Election Commission regulations.

Unlike in any other elections held in the country, involvement of clergy in political campaigns was highlighted in this election, however, there are no rules that do not allow the clergy to engage in politics, Deshapriya said further.

But the clergy cannot deliver speeches that promote candidates during the election season, he said further.

The Election Commission chairman then announced the overall votes obtained by the presidential candidates and officially declared the victory of SLPP’s candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa.