Sri Lanka Cricket election 'not free and fair'
By Saroj Pathirana | January 3, 2011
Mohan de Silva speaks to the press in Colombo on January 3, 2012. AFP PHOTO/Ishara S. KODIKARA.
The election for Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) became a one-horse race, after the main rival group against Upali Dharmadasa decided to withdraw from the contest.
The election, called for the first time in six years by the sports minister as per new ICC regulations to elect cricket administrations before 2013, was held on Tuesday.
Two teams led by Upali Dharmadasa and Thilanga Sumapthipala were to contest the elections but Sumathipala withdrew from the race at the last minute.
Vice president hopeful Mohan de Silva told BBC Sinhala that his team has decided to withdraw due to political pressure and in protest against alleged election malpractices.
"We were carrying out a successful campaign in the beginning until we came under political pressure," he said.
The sports minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage said shortly after that he was yet to be informed of the decision by de Silva’s team to withdraw.
"I categorically deny that anybody come under any pressure to withdraw," Aluthgamage said..
"If they were under any pressure how did they file the nominations? I do not know why they making such allegations."
Apart from the fact that some candidates are not qualified to contest according to the sports law, de Silva alleged that the director general of sports has change the list of eligible voters at the last minute.
"The director general of sports has violated her own circular previously issued on the election. Therefore, we don’t believe that the election will be free and fair," de Silva said.
Sumathipala, who publicly expressed his interest to contest against Dharmadasa for the post of president, suddenly withdrew at the last moment but denied coming under any pressure not to contest.
While Michael de Soysa was to contest for the post of secretary from Sumathipala's group, Dharmadasa's group has not filed any candidate for the post.
Former secretary of SLC Nishantha Ranatunga contested for the post as an independent candidate.
de Silva said Ranatunga's candidacy is one of the other reasons for his group to come under pressure not to contest the elections.
"Michael has been initially very popular among the cricket clubs but later the clubs were under pressure not to support him," he said.
There have been media reports that many, including ministers, campaigning for Ranatunga, who is currently the executive director of Carlton Television Network (CSN).
Minister Aluthgamage, who denies corruption allegations against the previous interim committee headed by Ranatunga and Somachandra de Silva, said that any individual is entitled to contest the election.
"But I clearly said that the SLC faced some difficulties due to inefficiency of the then administration and it is for the cricket clubs to decide whom to vote," he said.
This article first appeared on the BBC Sinhala service under the headline 'SLC rivals withdraw over 'political pressure''. It is republished here with permission from the author.
© Saroj Pathirana/BBC Sinhala service