- Ready for general election
Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya yesterday said that he had come under no pressure from the then President Mahinda Rajapaksa to halt the release of the presidential elections result in the wee hours of January 09.
Addressing a media conference at the Elections Department auditorium, the Polls Chief said that even if heavyweights of the then government had forced him, he would not have given in to pressure as he was vested with adequate powers to resist such a move and conduct a free and fair election.
Deshapriya said he wasn’t aware of any coup attempt outside the Elections Department and the on-going investigation would reveal whether it was true or not.
“Former President Rajapaksa or his brother Gotabhaya did not give any directions to me to halt results, but issuing results to media got delayed by one hour due to a technical fault at the University of Colombo School of Computing (UCSC) responsible for issuing of results to media,” he said. Deshapriya said that the release of the results of Kytes, Wanni (postal), Jaffna, Kankesanthurai, Vadukkodai, Kandy (postal), Kandy, Moneragala, Balapitiya and Mulkirigala had been delayed from 3.11am to 4.11 am as a result.
The Elections Department had sent the results to the Information Department and Chief Returning Officers had also announced the results at relevant counting offices, Deshapriya said. That would not have been possible if there had been an attempt to halt the release of the results.
He said that UNP MP Wijedasa Rajapakshe, Galle District MP Ajith Kumara, Minister Rajitha Senaratne’s son Chathura Senaratne, Champani Padmasekera, Srinath Perera, General Secretary of the New Democratic Front Sharmila Perera and representatives of several presidential candidates were at his office to monitor the results at that time and they would have been aware if such an incident had taken place.
Deshapriya said that the results had been delayed due to the work load exceeding the capacity of the server in UCSC to which the Elections Department sent results.
“UCSC experts identified the error within 20 minutes and they took 40 minutes to correct it,” he said.
Asked whether the Criminal Investigations Department had asked him to give statement regarding a complaint lodged by Foreign Affairs Minister Mangala Samaraweera about an alleged coup attempt, Deshapriya said: “Why should I do so?”
The Elections Chief Deshapriya said that former Defence Secretary had not came to the Department since January 27, 2010, when the results of the previous presidential election were announced.
Deshapriya denied accusations that army had surrounded the Elections Department, but there had been several platoons standby to handle any emergency, he added.
The Polls Chief his department was ready to conduct a general election within two and a half months of being directed to do so. If the electoral system was changed, some more time would have to be allocated, he added.
~ www.island.lk ~ By Dasun Edirisinghe