Gotabaya politicising past comment by Army Chief

CMEV to take up with EC issue of Gotabaya politicising past comment by Army Chief

October 14, 2019, 10:29 pm

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV), yesterday, lodged a complaint with the Elections Commission (EC) against Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa for using the image of present Army Commander, Lt. Gen Shavendra Silva and a quote the latter made in 2009 praising the former.

National Coordinator of CMEV, Manjula Gajanayake told The Island that they wanted the NEC to make an immediate directive banning the use of images and past quotations by serving security forces personnel for election propaganda. “The other candidates too will start imitating this and that will have an adverse effect on the integrity of the election as well as civil-military relations in Sri Lanka,” he said.

Gajanayake said that the commander of the army was an officer that served all Sri Lankans and that he did not belong to a single party. “Such adverts will give a bad impression. The present army commander was a senior military officer in 2009 and, of course, he praised Gotabaya who was the Defence Secretary. I am sure a lot of serving senior military personnel have said great things about former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka as well. What’s going to happen if they also start using these quotes”.

The CMEV also wants the army commander to question the Rajapaksa campaign on using his image and a quote from 2009 for their election campaign. “The army commander can’t engage in politics. This kind of adverts will damage his image.”

Rajapaksa, on October, 13 carried an advert in a number of newspapers, highlighting statements made by former Tri-forces Commanders and the present Army Commander, Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva about Rajapaksa.

“Every candidate contesting the presidential election must abide by the Code of Ethics set out by the Election Commission when conducting their election campaigns. This advert is a violation of the Code of Ethics,” he said.