Sri Lanka's election chief Mahinda Deshapriya has reportedly asked for an explanation from the defence ministry on why the army commander featured in an advertisement that appeared in a newspaper promoting a candidate for the next month's presidential elections. The advertisement had comments made by the current army chief, Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva praising presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa for his role in ending the country's long civil war.
“We highly regret this advertisement,” said Deshapriya, adding that, “It could be an old statement, but it is regrettable that the rank and designation of the present army commander had been used.”
The election chief criticised the advertisement and has sought an explanation from the secretary to the defence ministry on why the army was being used to promote a presidential candidate. Mahinda Rajapaksa has swept to victory in several elections by promoting himself as the leader who defeated the Tamil Tiger rebels in the long civil war. Gotabaya Rajapaksa's popularity has reportedly increased after April's Easter attacks in Sri Lanka that had killed 263 people and wounded 500. His opponents fear him as he is accused of condoning rape, torture and shadowy disappearance. He claims that if he wins the November 16 elections, he won't recognise an agreement that the government signed with the United Nations human rights council to investigate alleged war crimes during the civil war.
A special court in Sri Lanka postponed the hearing of the case against Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, a Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) candidate along with six others to next year who were in connection with the alleged misappropriation of public funds on October 15. Rs. 33.9 million public funds were used in the construction of the DA Rajapaksa museum and memorial in Medamulana and the next hearing for the case of misappropriation will take place reportedly on January 9, 2020. Moreover, since the hearing has been postponed, the judges also decided not to hear the evidence in the embezzlement case.
(With AP inputs)