Will MR become Prime Minister again?
Who is next to oppose election after the government printer?
Will the IMF agree to meet without China?
Despite the government’s 22 attempt to postpone the local government election through various tricks, the Chairman of the Election Commission, attorney at law Nimal G. Punchihewa, defeated all of those attempts and overcame the tricks. Mr. Saman Sri Ratnayake, Director General of the Election Commission, and the majority of the commission’s members continued to carry out the election process until last week. Last week, the Election Commission took two more steps towards conducting the election by issuing two announcements. One of the announcements prohibited candidates from campaigning inside government institutions. The other announcement was the creation of a separate unit within the Election Commission to investigate acts of violence.
Government Printer asks Money
Accordingly, by the beginning of last week, the main topic of the election had become the holding of postal voting. Postal voting was scheduled to be held on the 22nd, 23rd, and 24th, and the release of postal ballots was scheduled for last Wednesday (15th). Notifying it, the Election Commission had also taken steps to inform Mrs. Ganga Kalpani Liyanage, the Government pringer Officer, in writing.
As a result, the commission anticipated that postal ballots would be distributed on the 15th, as planned, and that the postal vote could proceed as planned. However, when the Government pringer Officer sent a letter to the Election Commission in response, a problem arose regarding the release of postal ballot papers. She informed the commission in that letter that she needed 40 million out of the 400 million needed to print the ballot papers in order to issue postal ballot papers. If not, she stated in her letter that she would be unable to distribute ballots.
Government printer writes to EC
Below is the two-page letter sent to the Election Commission by the head of the Government printer Gangani Liyanage on the 13th.
Chairman, Election Commission,
Election Commission Office,
For making election printouts related to local government polls – 2023.
Budget circulars No. 09/2022 dated 27/12/2022, No. 01/2023 dated 27.01.2023 and No. 02/2023 dated 2023/02/02 have given instructions regarding public financial management. Accordingly, to free up cash to run the essential public services without interruption until the desired revenue targets are achieved through the recent tax reforms and accordingly, salaries, pensions, welfare
It has also been informed that only essential expenses such as expenses, medical supplies, debt servicing and as prioritized by the budget circulars will be released after considering the liquidity in the official bank account of the Treasury Deputy Secretary. Furthermore, it has been emphasized that officials should not create any obligation contrary to those conditions, and officials who violate such terms are personally responsible for it.
02. However, the local government body poll – 2023 election date for 25 election districts has been announced as March 09 through 25 special gazettes No. 2317-02 to 2317-26 dated 01-30-2023. Also the date of marking of postal votes has been announced as 22, 23 and 24.02.2023.
03. According to your notice No. Khe/2023/03 dated 23.01.2023, which states that 339 ballot paper samples and ballot papers prepared by District Election Officers of 339 local government bodies will be sent, all the orders have been received so far. (Attachment 01) Also, it has been requested by your letter No. /2023/03 dated 10.02.2023 to print all the ballot papers required for issuing postal votes and submit them to the Election Commission by 13.02.2023. (Annexure 02)
04. However, a petition filed in the Supreme Court regarding the holding of the said election is currently being heard, and since no final judgment has been given there, a problematic situation has arisen regarding the printing of the said ballot papers and the bearing of the related costs. According to the present estimate, the total printing cost related to the poll is 410.6 million rupees.
(As informed by my letter No. Ridhartha/03/02/03/2023 dated 25.01.2023 and my letter No. Ridhartha/03/02/07/2023 dated 10.02.2023)
05. Accordingly, although there is currently a court case, since orders have been received for the printing of ballot papers, in accordance with the instructions given in the budget circulars mentioned in paragraph 01 regarding public financial management, the Government Printing Department should bear the expenses for the said printing papers. I kindly ask you to agree to give the amount.
Chief Government printer
The members of the Commission were shocked last Monday (13) when the Government printer head presented this letter to them. That is when it was realised that, due to the press chief’s last-minute letter, there is a risk of missing out on the opportunity to release postal ballots on Wednesday, the 15th, as planned. Furthermore, because all party secretaries and representatives were summoned to discuss the election’s future affairs on the same day, the Election Commission took steps to inform them of the letter sent by the Press Officer during that discussion.
Gov.t press chief summoned by President
However, JVP leader Mr. Anura Kumara Dissanayake and lawyer Mr. Maitri Gunaratne had mentioned in the public forum last week that there is some unnatural incident behind this letter of the Government pringer. Both of them emphasized that the President has called the Secretary of the Treasury, the Head of the Government printer, the Attorney General and several other high-ranking officials to the Presidential Secretariat for a sudden discussion, after which the head of the government printer forwarded this letter to the Commission.
We don’t know whether that disclosure was true or false, but it’s worth noting that neither the President nor the Head of the Government Printer have done anything to deny the public disclosure made by Anura Kumara and Maitri Gunaratne.
In addition to this, one of the things that we revealed last week through the ‘Rajya Rahas’ channel was that it was estimated that the election would cost 10 billion rupees, but in the first phase, it would cost only 02 billion rupees. It is used for major activities including printing of election papers, and all other expenses are paid to the relevant parties after a few weeks of the election. This was the general procedure that happened in every election throughout history.
Accordingly, this year too, going by the same tradition, the government printing press had started printing ballot papers, and when the undersigned letter was forwarded to the commission by the head of the printing press, it was reported that more than 03 lakh postal ballot papers had been printed. Also, the printing staff and Anura Kumara Dissanayake had mentioned to the media that there is sufficient paper needed to print the ballot papers in relation to even for two more elections.
EC’s position on the election
However, during the discussion between the commission and the party secretaries, the chairman of the commission informed the representatives of the political parties about the latest situation. The Chairman of the Commission Panchihewa informed the political parties that this type of letter had been sent by the government printer and that he had already discussed it with her.
With the disclosure of this information, the representatives of the political parties strongly told the members of the commission to proceed from the position of holding the election. Also, the election representatives also took steps to request the commission to take legal action against anyone who tries to disrupt the election. In response to that, the chairman of the commission, Punchihewa, said that he and the commission will continue to hold the same position as before.
Sagara and Ranga Bandra mute
The most special happening during this meeting was that Mr. Sagara Kariyawasam and Mr. Palitha Rangebandara, who were the general secretaries of the two main parties representing the government who participated in the meeting, remained silent without saying a word. Sagara Kariyawasam, while talking to the media in general, prior to this had said that Pohottuwa is ready for the elections. Also said that he is not afraid of any election. Sagara Kariyawasam not only issued statements in front of the media showing it to the country, but also took steps to discuss how to conduct election campaigning by calling Pohottu candidates from several districts to party office.
Sagara Kariyawasam, who called for the elections to be held in such a way that the country is not afraid of the elections, did not say a word about the holding of the elections on that day, which was a matter of surprise to the others present. Through this, it was clear to everyone present at the discussion how Pohottuwa played a major role behind the conspiracy to postpone the elections.
At the end of the discussion, Mano Ganesan, a party leader of Samagi Jana Sanandha, who came out of the Election Commission, took steps to clearly state this in front of the media. Moreover, except Pohottua and the UNP representatives who participated in the discussion, all other members took steps to strongly condemn the government’s efforts to postpone the election the presence of the media.
Condemn Government printer’s action
Also, SJB representatives, JVP representatives and well-known lawyers clearly said that the press chiefs actions were done with the aim of stopping the election, and that they would definitely take legal action against it. They emphasized that if they are found guilty before the court, these officials will definitely have to serve 03 years in prison.
Government printer stunned
With this situation, there could be a strong influence from within society on the head of the press. At the same time, it was clear that she was stunned. As a result, the Government printer sent another special letter to the Secretary of the Ministry of Finance, Mr. Mahinda Siriwardena, in a very confidential manner. Until now, no information about that letter has been reported in the media, and we are ready to reveal information about it for the first time through the ‘Rajya Rahas’ column. According to what we know, the press secretary is stepping away from the crisis with this letter to the finance ministry secretary.
Circular on expenditure
Through this letter, she has informed the Secretary of the Ministry of Finance that she is not able to print ballot papers for the election due to the circular issued by the Ministry of Finance, and therefore to release herself from the relevant circular, and if not, to release money to her for carrying out the further work of the election. Apart from this, it has been learned that she has explained another long description of the situation through her letter to the Secretary of the Ministry of Finance.
Sajith in conversation with EC
However, after the negotiations between the party secretaries and the commission, SJB Secretary General Ranjith Maddumabandara took steps to prepare the background for a telephone conversation between the chairman of the commission and Sajith Premadasa, the leader of the Samagi Jana Balawegaye.
During this lengthy phone call, Sajith asked the Commission’s Chairman, Mr. Punchihewa, to maintain the same candour that he has displayed thus far in the conduct of the elections. Sajith informed the Chairman of the Commission that the main opposition, Samagi Jana Balawegaya, will stand fearlessly on behalf of the Chairman of the Election Commission and the Election Commission. Sajith also informed the Chairman of the Election Commission that the Samagi Jana Balawegaya Party will take legal action against anyone who works to disrupt the elections, directly or indirectly.
In response, the chairman of the commission also informed Sajith that he and his members will continue to stand directly for the election as they have done so far.
SJB MPs decides course of action
After that, a special SJB MP Group meeting was held at the Opposition Leader’s office to discuss the situation. After the discussion with the commission, Ranjith Maddumabandara came directly to the opposition leader’s office to participate in this discussion. In the discussion held accordingly, the group of SJB MPs took steps to take several special decisions. The first decision was to look into the possibility of immediate action against the Secretary of the Treasury and the head of government press for obstructing the election.
This decision was handed over to the party’s legal team. It was also decided to inform all diplomatic missions immediately against this anti-democratic activity of the government. The task was entrusted to Mr. Harshana Rajakaruna. Accordingly, Harshana first took steps to inform the officials of the United Nations Organization in Colombo, and then met the officials of the Indian High Commission in this country and took steps to inform them about this. The next decision was to issue a statement by the Party General Secretary protesting the attempt to postpone the election. The announcement is as follows.
SJB secretary’s letter
Let’s unite all forces against the government’s crazy act of postponing the election.
The latest move by the government to rob the people’s sovereignty has come to the fore by deciding not to allocate money for the printing of postal ballots.
The government, which does not have a mandate, is afraid to hold the election, and because of that, the conspiracies to postpone the election have not ended yet. For the 22nd time, the government has made another cowardly attempt to postpone the election.
However, the government’s continuous tricks to postpone the election were defeated one by one before the law.
It must be emphasized that election is a constitutional requirement, and no one has the power to violate it. We as a country have experienced the infamous historical events of postponing elections etc. on numerous occasions and we must close all the ways to repeat through those dark events. Let it be known that we will continue to take legal action against all those who conspire to postpone the election and give the maximum punishment before the law.
Therefore, the opportunity has arisen for all opposition forces and all other progressive forces to gather in one camp against the cowardly actions taken by the government to postpone or not hold the elections in serious violation of the democratic rights of the people.
It is a responsibility at this moment and I recall that the critical moment has come to not to allow the crazy government to play with the sovereignty of the people.
United People’s Force.
Announcement by EC
Meanwhile, on Monday afternoon, the Election Commission issued a brief announcement explaining the situation. The announcement stated that due to an unavoidable reason beyond the control of the Commission, ballot papers for issuing postal votes could not be obtained on the 15th (Wednesday). It also said that the date will be announced later.
The brief announcement is as follows.
Local Government Polls 2023
Notice of Postponement of Issuance of Postal Ballots.
All activities related to the issuing of postal votes for the local government polls to be held on 09.03.2023 were organized on 15.02.2023 at 1116 centers.
However, due to unavoidable reasons beyond the control of the Commission, postal ballots will not be issued on 15.02.2023 as it is not possible to obtain ballot papers for issuing postal votes. It is hereby announced that the date of issue of postal ballots will be notified later.
As directed by the Election Commission,
Summons Shri Ratnayake
Election Commissioner General
Media distorted news
Despite the fact that the announcement states this, all of the media distorted the news and published it on their websites at the time, claiming that due to the problem of not receiving ballots, steps had been taken to postpone the postal voting scheduled for the 22nd, 23rd, and 24th. Because of the massive media coverage, everyone assumed that the government’s last attempt to postpone the election was successful. However, the country quickly realised that this news was a media ruse, and the Chairman of the Election Commission and opposition representatives immediately took steps to inform the country about the true situation of this news.
The Election Commissioner issued a clear statement to the media, stating that the commission has not yet made a decision to postpone the postal ballots, and that only a minor change will occur on the day it was decided to release the postal ballots. As a result, another large hand roll carried by the media indicating that the election would not be held was immediately seen to be turned upside down.
EC summoned the government printer
Under this situation, the Election Commission took steps to call the chief of government press to the commission for a discussion immediately on Tuesday. At that time, the press secretary’s letter had set the political scene on fire and the topic of discussion was the same.
However, the matters discussed here have not been revealed to the media, but the information that was gathered said that in addition to the amount of ballot papers that are currently printed, the amount that remains to be printed will continue, and since that amount cannot be completed before the 12th, all of that will be done on the day before March 09, when the election will be held. An agreement has been reached between the two parties to provide and complete all of that in a manner that will not interfere with the elections to be held on 09 as currently scheduled.
Agreement with the government printer
It is also reported that the government printing has agreed to complete the work so that the postal ballot papers can be distributed by Saturday, October 18th. During this discussion, the chief of the government press is said to have made a special request to the commission. That is, to talk with the Secretary of the Ministry of Finance, Mr. Mahinda Siriwardena, and get them out of the circular restricting the use of money. It has also been learned that the Commission has informed the government printer that commission will discuss her request with the Secretary of the Ministry of Finance.
Secretary to the treasury absent
As a result, the Commission summoned the Secretary of the Ministry of Finance, Mr. Mahinda Siriwardena, for immediate discussions on Tuesday. However, Mahinda Siriwardena had informed the commission that he would be available on Thursday due to a heavy workload on Tuesday and Wednesday. As a result, the discussion was scheduled for Thursday at 2:00 p.m. Most notably, the Secretary of the Ministry of Finance did not attend the Thursday meeting with the Commission.
Government’s tireless efforts to postpone election
As a result, not only the country’s opposition political parties, but also the international community, are keeping a close eye on the conspiracies that the government continues to carry out in order to postpone local government elections. Despite the fact that no country has made a public statement on the subject thus far, all countries, including Western countries, are currently in a strong position to intervene if the government postpones the elections. As a result, they are waiting for the government to officially intervene in order to destabilise the election process. They are prepared to respond at that point, according to ‘Rajya rahas’ column.
IMF and Chinese factor
Meanwhile, negotiations with the International Monetary Fund have reached a critical juncture. China’s Exim Bank agreed to restructure Sri Lanka’s debt for two years in a letter to the International Monetary Fund two weeks ago. In response, the IMF stated that they could not agree on a two-year period and that Sri Lanka should receive loan relief for a longer period than than that from China. However, it is worth noting that China has yet to respond to the IMF’s letter.
Ranil’s effort to speak to Xi Jinping
As a result, President Ranil Wickremesinghe attempted to discuss this matter with Chinese President Xi Jinping several times last week, but all of his efforts were futile. Later, in recent days, the President attempted again, but received the same response as before. As a result, Sri Lanka is currently at risk of not receiving loan relief from the IMF. Nonetheless, the government-friendly Sinhala and English media have been fabricating stories for the past few days claiming that Sri Lanka will receive a favourable response from the financial fund by next month and that the debt will be discharged by March.
In light of this, the government has decided to submit a proposal to the Financial Fund’s Executive Council for approval of loans to Sri Lanka without the participation of China. Otherwise, to proceed with IMF negotiations without the Chinese letter restructuring the debt.
The question is whether the International Monetary Fund is willing to continue negotiations in the absence of the required letter from China. The IMF has previously stated that, because China is Sri Lanka’s largest creditor, their debt restructuring programme is critical, and that China, like other countries, should contribute equally to Sri Lanka. As a result, it has been determined that the government will face a new crisis as a result of the money to be received from the IMF.
Pohottuwa election efforts
Pohottuwa held a series of meetings in recent days to inform its candidates for the local government elections, but the party’s leaders noticed that the responses from the candidates and party members were not very good in the first round. It had been reported to them that the high response that Pohottuwa had previously received had not been received, that party members had become disillusioned, and that the situation in the villages was extremely problematic. Basil Rajapaksa, the party’s mastermind who realised that contesting the election in this situation would be suicide, decided last week to fully support the government’s plan to postpone the election.
Under these circumstances, Pohottu general secretary Sagara Kariyawasam did not speak about the election during the discussion between the party general secretaries and the election commission.
MR as the prime minister?
Meanwhile, the state secret belt has learned that Pohottuwa is planning another political operation. That is the operation to re-appoint ex-Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister. The reason for this is that the party’s leaders have realised that if elections are held without a President or Prime Minister, Pohottuwa will face a very dangerous fate. To help alleviate the situation, Basil and others believe Pohottuwa should be appointed to a high position in the government.
Dinesh not willing ?
But the main impediment is none other than the current Prime Minister, Dinesh Gunawardena. Dinesh, as a senior member of the government, cannot make such a proposal on the spur of the moment, but the Rajapaksa family had arranged for him to receive this message unofficially by last week. It was suggested that Mahinda be given another chance as Prime Minister. Because Dinesh received a silent response in the first instance, several members of the Rajapaksa family have unofficially informed Dinesh of the same message. But Dinesh has discovered that there is currently no ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. However, it is also reported that the Rajapaksa family has not abandoned their mission.
Gota’s official residence
Former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was given a large official house built facing the main road of Colombo’s Bauddaloka Mawatha for accommodation after fleeing the country and returning to Sri Lanka due to the struggle since his presidency. That was based on security forces’ reports at the time that the security situation at Gota’s private home in Mirihane was inadequate. As a result, Gota has lived in this house on Bauddaloka Mawatha since the day he arrived in Sri Lanka.
However, after a few days, Gota found it difficult to live in this house due to the constant sound of vehicles and their horns. Gota, who preferred a quiet life, could see how it had quickly devolved into a very noisy situation. As a result, Gota had taken numerous steps to notify officials to provide another official residence instead of this official residence.
Back to private house
Apart from that, Gota’s plan was that after the renovation of the official house in Wijerama Mawatha, where former President Mahinda lived, Mahinda would move to the official house in Bullers Road, where he stayed until then. But, for a variety of reasons, Gota was unable to shift the official residence. Gota made a special decision last week in light of this situation. That is, to return to his old haunts, Mirihane House. As a result, Gota is currently residing in his private home in Mirihane, which is situated in a peaceful and serene setting.
Tight security to BIA
The airport authorities abruptly deployed special security at Katunayake Bandaranaike Airport last weekend. As a result, airport employees realised that something was going on in the airport and deployed security forces members not only on airport grounds but also on highways outside the airport grounds. Many people expected a high-ranking political official or a special foreign guest to arrive at the airport, so extra security would have been put in place. Despite the fact that security was used for three days, nothing out of the ordinary occurred in the airport, so it didn’t take long for it to become a common sight for many people.
Boeing C-17 Globemaster
Last Tuesday night, however, two massive Boeing C-17 Globemaster, were spotted landing at Katunayake airport. These two planes, which came from another state, were used for special duties by the United States Air Force. Also, in the past, America used these types of aircraft for war operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, and other places, and when a flood emergency arose in India, these types of aircraft were used to save lives. This aircraft is said to be capable of transporting hundreds of military personnel as well as war vehicles and military equipment at the same time.
Usually, if a special gun plane belonging to the American government comes to Sri Lanka like this, it would be given a lot of advance publicity, but this time there was no official announcement from any party about it. And it was another special event to see who was coming or not a word from any side. It was such a secret trip and sources say that only the President and less than a handful of people knew about it.
However, no information was provided regarding the arrival of these two American planes or who was present, but many people realised that something special was taking place on Tuesday night when the authorities abruptly closed the Katunayake highway. In general, the Katunayake highway is closed only when a special state guest arrives, but this has rarely been reported in recent history. As a result, many people were curious about who entered the country after the highway was closed.
During the searches, it was discovered that the people who arrived were part of a delegation of 27 people led by Mr. Jedidiah P. Royal, the United States’ Chief Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs. The group was said to have met with the President, State Security Minister Pramita Bandara Thennakone, and Defense Secretary Kamal Gunaratne after arriving in Colombo. Photos from the meeting with Defense Minister Pramita were also made available to the media.
But the question is, if the photos of the leader of this group were to be made public, then why was their trip kept a big secret in the first place? Who are the other members who came along with the Chief of Defense? Whether there were intelligence officers among them. Did they all officially enter Sri Lanka with visa facilities through the Immigration Department?
The other special feature is that in this way, a high-ranking American team is coming to Sri Lanka at a time when the conflict between America and China is growing. The United States has already destroyed a Chinese balloon that was in space above its country and Canada had similarly taken steps to shoot down a Chinese spy balloon that was above its country. In such a background, the arrival of a group of high-ranking American security officials is also a special event.
Ranil will meet Modi
On the last few occasions, we have revealed on the Rajya rahas column how Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe has made several attempts to hold a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi since the day he assumed the office of President through the Parliament. We said there that after first trying through the Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka and the Sri Lankan High Commission in India, and when that failed, the President tried to get an appointment with Modi through the former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
Also, efforts were made through Mr. Ajit Doval, who was the head of the Indian Secret Service who came to Sri Lanka, and through his son Mr. Sourya Doval, but all of them failed in the end. Apart from this, the President even took steps to send Mr. Sagala Ratnayake, who was his chief of staff as well as a senior adviser to India, but at no time was he able to get an appointment from Modi. But in the end the President’s efforts were successful when Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar’s who came to Sri Lanka a few days ago visit on a visit. According to the information we have, India has already given the date and time to the President. It is also known that it is scheduled to be published within the next few days.