Political crisis brews over losing 11 foreign nationals in Sri Lanka parliament

ECONOMYNEXT – Opposition Sri Lanka Freedom Party today acknowledged that they risked losing 11 parliamentary seats as it emerged that its lists of candidates for Galle and Matara districts may have been invalid.

SLFP’s new general secretary Duminda Dissanayake told reporters in Colombo that they were consulting legal opinion after it was discovered that two dual nationals had been fielded as candidates from the party for the two districts.

In the district of Galle, Geetha Kumarasinghe who was elected as a member of the UPFA (the main constituent of the party is the SLFP) is a Swiss national according to a newspaper interviews she herself had given.

The 19th amendment to the constitution bars “a citizen of Sri Lanka who is also a citizen of any other country” from holding elected office in the island.

Another UPFA candidate from Matara district, Manoj Prasanga Hewagampalage (son of H. G. Sirisena), is reportedly an Australian citizen and his candidacy was challenged by the JVP.

dual-citizenshipHowever, the Matara returning officer maintained that since the election was being conducted under the parliamentary elections act of 1981 and provisions of the 19th amendment were yet to be incorporated into it, he could not reject the UPFA list.

The returning officer, however, noted that anyone could go to court after the election and challenge the inclusion of a dual citizen in the UPFA list. The Supreme Court would have to interpret if the 19th amendment applied to the August 17 election or not.

With the latest development, the entire election process would be thrown into chaos as the elections commissioner and the Supreme Court will have to rule on the validity of the national lists prepared on the basis of votes a party gets from the entire country.

If the SLFP lists are declared void in line with the 19th amendment, the SLFP will lose six MPs from Galle and five from Matara. It is not clear how the Elections Commissioner and courts will allocate those seats to another party.

If the 11 seats are allocated after taking out the votes cast for the UPFA, the UNP and the JVP stand to gain.
Manoj failed to secure a seat from Matara, but his name appears in the UPFA list and in the event of an elected MP resigning or dying, he could still be an MP. Therefore, he could still be challenged in court.

EconomyNext broke the story on August 22 (llink)