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AFP

President cancels Sri Lankan board elections

Mahinda Rajapakse, the Sri Lankan president, has ordered that elections to the Sri Lankan board be cancelled and has asked former players to run the game

AFP
13-Jul-2006
Mahinda Rajapakse, the Sri Lankan president, has ordered that elections to the Sri Lankan board be cancelled, and has asked former players to run the game, said Jeevan Kumaratunga, Sri Lanka's sports minister.
Rajapakse intervened to end bitter infighting in Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) after a meeting with 11 former cricketers, including Arjuna Ranatunga, the former captain, at his residence on Wednesday.
Rajapakse asked Kumaratunga to cancel the SLC elections after the cricketers complained that severe malpractices leading to Saturday's vote were ruining the nation's most popular sport. "The cricketers had a discussion with the president and he advised them to come up with an alternative to the elections," Kumaratunga told AFP. "There have been death threats and various other issues leading up to the election. He didn't want any complications after the elections as the World Cup was fast approaching."
A no-holds-barred contest was developing between Jayantha Dharmadasa, chairman of the government-appointed interim committee running the cricket body, and Mohan de Silva, former SLC president. Media reports in recent days said the rivals had promised huge payments to member clubs to secure their votes for control of the nation's richest sports body.
Elections to the Colombo District Cricket Association last week, seen as a prelude to the SLC vote, were marred by rigging. Rajapakse wanted the former cricketers to run the SLC and sought a compromise between the rival candidates by urging them both to join the administration as co-chairmen, according to sources who attended the meeting.
The power struggle has already wrecked the schedule for the three-nation tournament which includes India and South Africa from August 14 to 29. Last week, Dharmadasa's committee changed the original schedule and decided to shift the first four matches in Dambulla, seen as a de Silva stronghold, to Colombo.
de Silva's group, however, said it would take the matches back to Dambulla if it won the elections. The Rangiri International Stadium in Dambulla was championed by Thilanga Sumathipala, the former SLC president, who was thrown out by the government last year and replaced by Dharmadasa's interim committee. Sumathipala was not contesting this time but had thrown his weight behind de Silva.
South Africa are due to arrive in Sri Lanka next week to play two Test matches and then the tri-series. Both Tests will be played in Colombo.