SL Prez orders not to use his pics in poll campaign

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has ordered not to use his photographs by candidates contesting for the upcoming parliamentary elections in their propaganda campaign, it was reported on Thursday.

Rajapaksa has further instructed that no public official serving in security forces, government service, Corporations, Boards and Statutory Bodies should engage in political activities, the Daily Mirror newspaper quoted the resident’s Media Division as saying.

In a letter on Wednesday, Secretary to the President P.B. Jayasundera said that infrmation was received that besides using Rajapaksa’s photos, the candidates were also promising jon appointments and secure services of Army and public officials.

The President has instructed his Secretary to strictly advice relevant parties not to use the photograph of the President in election campaign and the public officials to refrain from engaging in political activities, it added.

Sri Lanka is set to hold its parliamentary elections on August 5, the country’s National Election Commission (NEC) announced after it postponed the crucial polls twice due to restrictions linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The elections were initially set to be held on April 25, after Rajapaksa dissolved Parliament in March following his landslide victory in the November 2019 presidential polls.

The date was shifted to June 20 after lockdown measures were announced in mid-March.

The elections are set be held under strict health protocols with campaign meetings limited to a maximum of 100 people, while the NEC has recommended using the print and electronic media for propaganda and cutting down physical meetings to avoid exposure to the virus.

The Commission has also limited house-to-house campaigns to a maximum of three people.

Rajapaksa was sworn-in as President after an easy victory in the November 16, 2019 polls on the back of an agenda focused on national security.

Soon after, he appointed his brother Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Prime Minister and dissolved the opposition-majority Parliament.

The President’s Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) party has to win majority in the house in order to secure the government’s full control in the semi-presidential representative democracy.