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Abstain from political engagements, Election Commission tells public servants

Chief Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya announcing the postponement of the elections

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Election Commission requests all public servants “with or without political rights” to abstain from attending or directly engaging in events and activities of a political nature in the run-up to the upcoming elections.

In a statement issued today, Election Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya said: “all in the public service irrespective of whether they have political rights or not should distance themselves from political engagements”, adding that “trade unions of public officers should abstain from directly engaging in political activities during the election period in order to uphold their trade independence.”

According to Deshapriya, the Commission has received formal complaints alleging that “public officers with political rights and staff officers without such rights” have, in their capacity as trade

union leaders or union members, attended receptions and programmes organised under the guise of meetings or trade union meetings by candidates contesting the election at their

residences or reception halls.

Investigations are underway into the complaints, he said, noting that staff officers and non-staff officers in the Education, Health, Agriculture and Mahaweli, Industry and Construction Samurdhi and Social Services, Provincial Councils & Local Government ministries have attended such programmes.

“Frontline activists and members of trade unions comprising stall officers without political rights should ensure that they do not attend such receptions/meetings and the Election Commission opines that it is appropriate for the trade unions of public officers with political rights to follow suit,” said the Commission Chairman.

“In addition, complaints alleging that trade unions of staff officers without political rights have engaged in election propaganda activities having invited politicians with no interest whatsoever in the profession the trade union represents, to workshops,discussions, get-togethers, receptions organised by such trade unions or groups of such trade union members during the election period,” he added.

In his statement, Deshapriya stressed on the need for all public sector trade union activists to abstain from engaging in such activities and also the need to abstain from inviting politicians for such events. (Colombo/Jul23/2020)

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