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The ICC has said that it will withhold its next financial distribution due to Sri Lanka Cricket pending an investigation into possible government interference in Sri Lanka cricket. SLC's board had been dissolved by the government last month and, on March 31, Sri Lanka's sports minister Navin Dissanayake appointed a nine-member interim committee, headed by Sidath Wettimuny, to run Sri Lanka cricket.
The ICC board met on Thursday to discuss whether the appointment was a breach of the ICC's constitution, "which requires free and fair elections for office-bearers within Member boards".
The board supported an ICC governance review committee recommendation that it write to the sports ministry, "seeking a full and proper explanation of its intervention that prima facie puts SLC in breach of the ICC's constitution."
Until the issue is resolved, the board also decided that the ICC would withhold the next financial distribution due to the SLC and instead hold it in an escrow account.
The interim committee's appointment is ostensibly at risk of contravening article (B) of section 2.9 of the ICC's Memorandum and Articles of Association, which states: "Where a government interferes in the administration of cricket by a Member... the Executive Board shall have the power to suspend or refuse to recognise that Member."
The board gave Nuski Mohamed, a nominee of the interim committee, the opportunity to provide information about the status of the committee, and invited him to attend the board meeting as an observer. Mohamed didn't attend the meeting, which therefore had no Sri Lankan representation. Mohamed had also been treasurer of the two previous SLC boards.
The interim committee had been established because the posts held by the office-bearers, led by president Jayantha Dharmadasa, had become null and void. The laws governing all sports bodies in the country require annual elections to be held on or before March 31. SLC's elections, had been postponed until the end of April due to the World Cup, which ended on March 29. However, with the appointment of the interim committee, these elections were scrapped, with the sports minister suggesting the interim committee would be in charge until cricket in the country was "cleaned up".
"We don't think an election is going to help that process but only complicate it," Dissanayake had said. "Improving the cricket structure, changing the voting system for the elections, we feel this interim committee will bring those changes. Anybody who takes over after that will have to adhere to it. It's a very transparent process."
Though SLC had elected its boards from January 2012 to March 2015, allegations of significant government interference characterised that period. Several high-profile office bearers were elected uncontested, while potential candidates alleged government pressure had compelled them to bow out of the elections.
Prior to that, SLC had been run by a series of nine interim committees, between 2004 and 2012. At no point during those years did the ICC cut SLC's funding, nor order an investigation.
The article relevant to SLC's "prima facie" breach also states that government interference in "selection of teams" may result in a board's suspension. However, Sri Lanka's national sides have been approved by the sports minister before announcement for years. The team's last chairman of selectors, Sanath Jayasuriya, had also been a government minister for much of his two-year tenure.