Supporters of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa attend a rally near Colombo on July 28 ahead of the upcoming parliamentary election. (Photo: Ishara Kodikara/AFP)
Sri Lankan Christians are praying for divine guidance ahead of the upcoming general election.
“It is a great responsibility for us as voters to do our part in casting our vote for a person who possesses the qualities that will keep us united and free as a nation,” said Father Reid Shelton Fernando, a prominent human rights defender who shared the prayer with the faithful.
"As we are to elect our rulers to the task of governing, grant all the citizens of this country the guidance of your Holy Spirit, no matter whether they are Christians or not, but grant all of them the wisdom to choose the best candidate from their respective parties who will not follow the path of selfishness and of corruption," added Father Fernando, former chaplain of the Young Christian Workers Movement.
"We pray that the election process would be fair and honest and free from fraud and technical difficulties and lead to the formation of a government that will govern our country with righteousness."
The election was initially slated to be held on April 25 but had to be postponed due to the Covid-19 outbreak which led a nationwide lockdown from March.
The Election Commission shifted the date to June 20 but it was changed again and will be held on Aug. 5.
A total of 20 political parties and 34 independent groups are seeking a place in the 225-seat parliament. Some 16 million people are eligible to vote in the election.
Father Cecil Joy Perera, rector of Daham Sevana Seminary, said many who have been labeled corrupt have received their education in Catholic schools and listened to the Sunday sermons of priests in parishes.
"It is not incorrect to say that the Catholic politicians are widely known for their bad deeds. As Catholics we are deeply saddened and ashamed by this. Catholic politicians should not further corrupt the already degraded political culture," said Father Perera.
Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) recently launched an online election monitoring platform. TISL hopes that the platform will provide the public an opportunity not only to submit complaints but also to understand the extent of public property misuse throughout the country.
The agency has received 103 complaints to date regarding the misuse of public property ahead of the election. Many complaints relate to the use of state-funded development projects for campaign purposes and the improper conduct of public officials.
Election monitoring watchdog People's Action for Free and Fair Elections had received 1,469 complaints concerning election laws as of July 24.