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News


Foreign Ministry deprives expat Lankans of voting

By Chamindra Wickremasinghe
Elections Commissioner, Dayananda Dissanayake castigated the foreign ministry and the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) for their sluggish attitudes towards enfranchising Sri Lankan migrants, in violation of their voting rights.
Speaking at a workshop on voting rights of Sri Lankan expatriates, organised by the Migrant Services Centre last week, Dissanayake said, “I made my submissions on voting rights for expatriates, to the PSC in 2003. It wasn’t taken seriously. I have tried my best to get information from the Foreign Ministry on how many have got citizenship in other countries. They are not concerned about this and so, thousands of migrant Lankans are losing their right to vote.”
The Commissioner revealed that out of the 13.5 million registered in the voters’ list, about 1.5 million people are permanently or temporarily abroad.
“It is a great injustice that these people are not franchised,” he added.
Due to the politicization of the Foreign Service, Dissanayake emphasized the importance of the Elections Commission controlling the entire process, including the appointment of officials for the management of the polls. “If the embassies and high commissions are allowed to handle elections, everything will be politicised, as the ambassadors are political appointments,” he said.

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