ECONOMYNEXT – A host of Buddhist monks and murder suspects are among over 6,000 candidates seeking election to the 225-seat parliament where members enjoy perquisits, power and pensions.
Among the venerable priests seeking an “honourable” title before their names is Galagodaaththe Gnanasara of the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) which former president Mahinda Rajapaksa blames for his January 8 defeat.
Former deputy minister Premalal Jayaratne who is in remand custody in connection with the killing of a supporter of President Maithripala Sirisena in the run up to the January election was given nominations, by err…Sirisena. Jayaratne had the green light from President Sirisena to sign his nomination papers while in remand custody.
Another deputy minister of the former government, Sarana Gunawardena, who is out on bail did not get nominations, but his wife was considered instead. He is accused of embezzlement of LKR 36 million rupees from the state lotteries board.
Notably, Duminda Silva, who denies allegations that he is the biggest drug importer into the country, was also denied nominations along with Sajin Vaas Gunawardena and Mervin Silva who has complained to police that Gotabhaya Rajapaksa got editor Lasantha Wickrematunga assassinated in 2009.
Both Gotabhaya and his brother basil were not in the race, most probably because dual citizens are no longer eligible to run for public office in line with the 19th amendment to the constitution. However, at least one dual citizen is said to be in the fray from a southern electorate and elections officials said they were unable to reject his candidacy because enabling legislation was yet to be enacted to give effect to the 19th amendment.
In the event there is a court challenge to the candidate even after the election, the entire list of candidates from his party could be disqualified.