Final Report on election related violence: Central & North Western Province

The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) commenced its monitoring for the Central and North Western Provincial Council Elections on 10th January 2009. CMEV focused its monitoring on election related malpractices, irregularities and incidents of electoral violence in three phases:

1. Campaign
2. Polling Day
3. Post election violence

CMEV monitoring is founded on the belief that the electoral process is the basic mechanism for choice and change in a functioning democracy. Furthermore, political parties bear a responsibility for protecting the integrity of the electoral process through their choice of candidates and electoral practices. Individual candidates, likewise. Accordingly, the integrity of the electoral process is of pivotal importance for the legitimacy of the governance and government that it produces. Electoral violence and malpractice and discrimination in favor of any political party or section of the electorate will erode public trust and confidence.

The basic modus operandi of CMEV is the deployment of monitors in the field attached to each of the relevant Polling Divisions in a District. They report back to the CMEV Secretariat for the further corroboration of information pertaining to electoral violence and malpractice. The Secretariat releases the information to the public through the media after this further process is completed.

Overall, in the elections to the two Provincial Councils, there was a sizeable decrease in the number and nature of incidents, especially on Election Day. There were however, a number of incidents reported during the campaign that adversely affected the environment for conducting a free and fair election.

In these two elections, the highest number of complaints related to the disenfranchisement of voters on account of the lack of proper identification documents. This was also the case in the previous provincial council elections- the Eastern Provincial Council Election held on 10th May and North Central and Sabaragamuwa Provincial Council Election held on 23rd August 2008.

CMEV consistently highlighted the issue and the importance of taking steps to rectify it. The problem however has persisted. Other issues identified are the misuse of public resources and biased print and electronic media coverage – mainly by the State media. This has become a common feature of elections held in Sri Lanka and is yet another reinforcement of the argument constantly advanced by CMEV regarding the urgency of the
full implementation of the 17th Amendment.

CMEV believes that the establishment of independent commissions for the Police, the Public Service and Elections amongst others provided for by this amendment, is necessary for the protection of the integrity of the electoral process. The Commissioner of Elections acted decisively in response to malpractices being confirmed at one Polling Station. The Commissioner declared the results of No. 47 Polling Station at P/ Nayakkarchenai Tamil Vidyalya in the Puttalam Polling Station (Puttalam District) null and void and ordered a re-poll in that station. CMEV welcomed the decision of the Commissioner of Elections and reiterates that it will serve as a strong precedent and effective deterrent against future electoral irregularities and malpractice. CMEV deployed a special team to monitor the re-poll and recorded 12 incidents of election related violence on the day of the re poll.

Read the report in full here as a PDF.