23 March 2010, Colombo, Sri Lanka: CMEV continues to receive reports regarding the misuse of public resources for electioneering. CMEV has recorded 32 (29%) cases of public property misuse out of the 110 confirmed Major Incidents as of 22nd March 2010.
Attack on MTV/MBC Media
CMEV unreservedly condemns the attack on the MBC/MTV office located at Braybrook Place, Colombo, yesterday 22nd March 2010. CMEV has learnt that one of the buses used to transport the attackers was from the Kelaniya Bus Depot. On 22nd March CMEV contacted the Slave Island Police Station, CI Malin Perera, informed us that according to the statements recorded from the arrested persons, some of them are supporters of UPFA candidate Duminda de Silva (candidate no 08) who were on their way to a musical show organized by him. Duminda de Silva categorically denied the involvement of his supporters in the incident.
Whilst the precise motivation for the attack has yet to be established, CMEV notes that it took place in the heart of the capital in the afternoon and against a media organization that has been attacked before. The attack, in the context of a general election in particular, adversely impacts the free flow of information, public perceptions in respect of their access to information and the Rule of Law. CMEV calls on the Police to take effective and speedy action against the attackers without fear or favour.
Repeated reports regarding the misuse of public property
CMEV Field Monitor reported that a meeting was held on 23rd March at the Ashraff-Athaullah Memorial Hall, Pottuvil for school teachers and principals at around 12.00 pm.
According to the CMEV Field Monitor, UPFA candidates namely A.H.Abdul Basheer(candidate no 03),A.M.Lebbe(candidate no 05) and A.M.Athaullah(candidate no 02) and Eastern Provincial Council Minister of Road Development, Irrigation, Housing and Construction, Rural Electrification and Water Supply Uduman Lebbe addressed the gathering.
CMEV learnt that the schools in the Pottuvil area were closed at around 10.30am on the 23rd in order that the principals and teachers could attend the above meeting.
CMEV contacted Mr.Muthalif, Deputy Director of Akkaraipattu Zonal Education Department, who said that permission had not been granted to close schools on the 23rd. He further stated that he came to know that it was the Ministry of Education of the Eastern Provincial Council that had given approval.
Secretary of the Eastern Provincial Council Ministry of Education Mr.Weerawardhana, informed CMEV that this was not the case, that he was not aware of the incident and that he would look into the matter.
Mannar: on 22nd March CMEV received reports regarding the misuse of a building and staff of the National Youth Council, Mannar in the campaign of the incumbent Minister of Re-settlement and Disaster Relief Services and UPFA candidate Rishard Badiudeen(candidate no 01). Reportedly, a meeting for organizers and supporters of Rishad Badiudeen was held on 22nd March at the Council.
CMEV contacted the National Youth Council, Mannar and an officer attached to the council denied that such a meeting took place.
Attempts to contact Rishard Badiudeen were not successful.
Jaffna: According to CMEV Field Monitor UPFA candidate for Jaffna District, Alexander Charles (candidate no 04) has conducted a meeting in the Kachai Government Tamil Mixed School on 18th March 2010 at around 01.30 pm
When contacted, Alexander Charles, categorically denied the allegation.
Nuwaraeliya: Allegedly the incumbent Minister of Youth Empowerment and Socio Economic Development and UPFA candidate Arumugan Ramanathen Thondaman(candidate no 10) conducted a meeting at Pathana College of Education main hall on 17th March 2010.
CMEV learnt that five principles of government schools and trainees attached to the college also attended the meeting. Three of them were identified as the Principles of Barathi Maha Vidyalya, Highlands Central College and Kotagala Tamil Maha Vidyalaya, respectively.
CMEV Field Monitor reported that a lorry (CP PA 5267) belonging to the Kotagala Pradeshiya Saba is being used in the campaign of UPFA candidate Shanthini Chandrasekran(candidate no 09).N.Sadasivam, a UPF Praseshiya Sabah Member from Kotagala, denied the allegation.
CMEV welcomes the Election Commissioner’s guidelines prohibiting public property misuse and highlights the section 104B (4) (a) of the 17th amendment to the Constitution, which clearly states that;
The Commission shall have the power during the period of an election, to prohibit the use of any movable or immovable property belonging to the State or any public corporation
We urge the Commissioner to exercise the powers vested on him in the interests of protecting and strengthening the integrity of the electoral process.
As of 22nd March 2010 CMEV has recorded a cumulative total of 170 incidents including 110(64%) Major Incidents. The Use of Firearms has risen to 31(28%). CMEV has recorded 22 Major Incidents from the Central Province, 17 from the North Western, 16 from Sabaragamuwa, 12 from the Eastern Province, 11 from Uva, 09 from the Southern Province, 08 each from the Western and Northern Provinces and 07 from North Western Province.
CMEV has received 127 complaints against the UPFA, 25 of which were made by party members. The UNP was accused in 07 incidents, whilst in 35 cases the party affiliation of the perpetrators has not been identified. CMEV has recorded a complaint against an independent group contesting in Badulla.