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* Opposition Leader of Sri Lanka demands equal media coverage as for the President during elections
Thu, Mar 20, 2014, 12:13 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Mar 20, Colombo: Sri Lanka's Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremasinghe in a letter to the Election Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya has strongly protested against the blatant violation of election law by all sections of the state media and some private institutions.

While lodging the complaint, the Opposition Leader pointed out to the Election Commissioner that the law regarding election campaigning is very clear, and it is his duty as the Commissioner of Elections to control all matters in respect of elections including election campaigns.

Wickremasinghe in his letter reminded that the Election Commissioner disagreed with the stance taken by the Media Ministry Secretary and also the Director General of Information that the President had every right to participate at state events as the Head of State, and said the President is also the head of a political party which is contesting at the current Provincial Council Elections.

"When participating in so called "State Functions" the President during this period is not addressing the gathering as the President but as a head of a political party as part of that party's election campaign," he noted.

Quoting the Election Commissioner's guidelines on media giving equal access to all the contesting political parties, Wickremasinghe said that there is nothing in the Constitution entitling the President to obtain media coverage as a matter of right.

He complained that the "President and his party are also seen using state resources, such as helicopters and the like for which we are reliably informed no payment is made."

"It is our position therefore that every instance of media coverage of the President during the period of elections should be matched by equal coverage for me as the Leader of the Opposition," the UNP leader demanded.

"I trust you will take note of this and take necessary action in the circumstances to ensure a free and fair election campaign," Wickremasinghe wrote.

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