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* Election monitors criticize Sri Lankan President for participating in live TV program
Tue, Mar 11, 2014, 12:31 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Mar 11, Colombo: Sri Lanka's election monitors criticized the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa for participating in an interactive live TV program last week.

The President participated in the live program Janapathi Jana Hamuwa (President meeting Public) programme on television answering questions from the public in the Western and Southern provinces where the elections are to be held on March 29.

The election monitors, People's Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL), Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) and Intellectuals for Human Rights Network for Election Monitoring (IHR NEM) have condemned the President's participation as inappropriate for a national and political leader, Ceylon Today reported.

The election watchdogs say President as the Leader of the ruling United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) and its main constituent Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) should not use his position to give undue advantage to the ruling party at the upcoming elections.

The election monitors have pointed out that nobody including the Elections Commissioner, Mahinda Deshapriya can control the President, the Secretaries and the Ministries and therefore they must exert self-control.

"Nobody, including the Elections Commissioner can control the President, the Secretaries and the Ministries, and therefore they must control themselves and not engage in such violations during times of elections," the Executive Director of PAFFREL, Rohana Hettiarachchi has said.

"As a President, he has the right to intervene in people's issues. However, he is also the Leader of the United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) and Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), and therefore he shouldn't use his position to get undue advantage for his Party which is also contesting the elections," he has noted.

Executive Director, of CaFFE, Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon has noted that although the participating in the TV program was not illegal the President was abusing state property for election campaign of the ruling party.

"This is a straightforward act of election campaigning, although officially according to the law, it is not illegal. This propaganda act was done abusing state property with the radio broadcasting system, premises and equipment, are all government resources," Tennakoon has said.

"This is a very indirect way of getting a clear advantage for the ruling Party," he has remarked.

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