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Sat, 25 October 2014 05:29:48
Sri Lanka presidential election results clean, campaign dirty: polls chief
03 Feb, 2010 14:18:55
Feb 03, 2010 (LBO) – Results of Sri Lanka’s recently concluded presidential poll was clean, contrary to complaints of malpractices, but election campaigning was unfair, the head of the elections department said.
"The campaign period - I'm not satisfied; the election results - I stand by it,” elections commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake told reporters at a media conference.

"The elections commission made sure the results tallied."

The campaign for the January 26 poll, which was won by incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa with a clear majority over his rival, former army chief Sarath Fonseka, was marred by violence.

The opposition also alleged the government used state machinery and media to canvass support during the campaign, abuse of election law that Dissanayake himself had complained about.

Fonseka has refused to accept the result, alleging counting malpractices and said he would challenge the result in court

Dissanayake called for changes to the electoral system that would result in a better ‘political culture’.

Dissanayake said the island’s political culture had been deteriorating for a couple of decades with violence and malpractice virtually routine during elections.

"The present, second-generation politicians, I can't say are gentlemen."

Dissanayake, who has conducted several elections, said the last presidential poll was the worst he had faced.

There were 'rumors' that the elections commissioner was under house arrest and had issued results with a gun on his head, he said.

“Later there was another 'rumor' the commissioner was taken to hospital after a motor accident,” Dissanayake said.

"I was at the election office for 36 hours. Some candidates came to meet me. They came to see if I was here, not for any other reason," Dissanayake said.

"I have served in the election office for over 35 years and I have never experienced anything like this election.

He said opposition candidates have a further 14 days to legally challenge the election results and a recount would be done only on a court order.

"It would have been better to take legal action than speculate rumors at media conferences," Dissanayake said

The commissioner vowed to stay on to supervise forthcoming general elections.

"My staff pleaded with me not to vacate my position and stay on for the next election. So I will stay on for the next election."

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