Monitoring election violence in Sri Lanka Parliamentary Election 2010: Media Communiqué 4

26 March 2010, Colombo, Sri Lanka: CMEV notes with concern the actions of election officials which violate the integrity of the electoral process, the very process they are charged with protecting.

Postal Voting

CMEV received reports of 28 postal voting related incidents at the closure of postal voting on 26th March. CMEV also received reports of clashes between party members during the postal voting.

North Western Province

Chilaw Bus Depot

CMEV learnt that the Certifying Officer of the above centre compelled the CMEV Stationary Monitor to alter his observations when he submitted the observation form to him for attestation yesterday.

CMEV monitor observed that some leaflets of the UPFA candidates were placed on the tables of the centre and that voters were exchanging information on which candidates they were vote for.

CMEV has written to the Commissioner and the Puttalam Returning Officer in this regard.

North Central Province

Zonal Education Office, Anuradhapura

According to CMEV Field Monitor, the Certifying Officer of the above centre, Abdul Sameedu, did not provide any details to him and said that he has not been instructed to provide details to election observers.

At around 03.30 pm, CMEV contacted the Assistant Election Commissioner of Anuradhapura, S.M.S. Bandulasena, who said that he would intervene in the matter. He requested CMEV to send its Field Monitor to the particular centre to provide him with further details.

After the intervention of the Assistant Election Commissioner, CMEV Field Monitor was able to collect the details from the above postal voting centre.

138 postal votes were registered at the centre.

Kebithigollewa Police Station

CMEV learnt that postal voting at the Kebitihgollewa Police Station was postponed to 03rd April 2010 since the Police Officers are on special duty today. Postal voting, however, was held at the centre yesterday, according to the CMEV FieldMonitor. One hundred and thirty eight (138) postal votes were registered at the centre.

Wilgamuwa Zonal Education Office,Laggala

CMEV learnt that postal voting at Wilgamuwa Zonal Education Office was stopped by an Assistant Returning Officer (ARO), N.B.Karunatilake, at around 10.30 am yesterday on the ground that the procedures were not properly followed.

According to CMEV Field Monitor,29 out of 192 registered postal ballots were marked at the time of closure.

On 26th March, CMEV contacted the Assistant Election Commissioner of the Matale District, DileepNishantha, who informed CMEV that the two certifying officers of the centre did not participate in the instruction classes held for them and did not even collect the required official documents to conduct the polls including the journals. He further explained that they had not informed party representatives of the polls at the centre. He also stated that he had instructed the A.R.O to stop the polls considering the above and the A.R.O’s observations. According to him postal voting is rescheduled for 30th and 31st March.

A similar incident was reported from the Matale General Hospital. According to W.K.W.S.Kumarawnasa, Medical Superintendent and the Certifying Officer, the postal voting of the centre is postponed to 30th and 31st March,as he could not inform the party representatives.

CMEV contacted Kuamrawansa on this account. He informed CMEV that he did not receive some required information from the Election Department and managed to collect the documents only yesterday. According to him, he was unable to inform the party representative since he didn’t receive lists from the Returning Officer.

CMEV contacted the Assistant Election Commissioner.He stated that he did not receive any information about the postponement of the postal voting at the centre as yet, and that he will look into the matter.

Northern Province

Manthi West Pradeshiya Sabha

On 26th March, CMEV Field Monitor reported that all applications from the above centre were rejected due to late submission. CMEV learnt that 19 applications were submitted to the centre.

CMEV contacted Samson Jennings, the Certifying Officer of the centre.  He told CMEV that the applications for postal voting had been sent on the 24th of February and that the delay could be due to late delivery by the postal department.

CMEV recorded a similar incident from the Mannar Police Station in which 56 out of 399 applications were rejected due to late submission.

On 25th March, CMEV received reports that 150-200 applications for postal voting from the Vavuniya STF camp were rejected due to various reasons.

CMEV Field Monitor visited the Security Forces Head Quarters, Vanni and CI A.D.G.P.Amarasinghe informed him that there are several STF camps within the Vanni region and that a number of applications for postal voting from each camp were rejected due to various reasons. He explained that the total is not from a particular camp.

Election Violence

CMEV received reports regarding intra and inter party clashes between candidates and supporters of both leading political parties during the last two days. Recent incidents are highlighted below:

UPFA supporters assaulted in Kinniya

On 25th March, CMEV received reports regarding an attack on the supporters of UPFA candidate Najeeb A Majeed(candidate no 03).

According UPFA District Coordinator, Mr.Faris, they were assaulted by the supporters of UNP candidate M.S.Thowfeek(candidate no 06) near the Jawahir Junction ,Kinniya at around 06.40 pm. Two UPFA supporters were severely injured due to the attack and initially admitted to the Kinniya Hospital Base Hospital and transferred to the Trincomalee General Hospital.

CMEV learnt that A.Mubaris known as Ramzi, a victim, has been transferred to the Kandy General Hospital on 26th March, subsequently.

On 26th March CMEV contacted the Kinniya Police Station, Election OIC, Karunaratne informed CMEV that they have not yet received a complaint regarding the attack and that they came to know about the incident last night. He further noted that the attack was not politically motivated.

UPFA supporter assaulted in Medirigiriya

On 24th March at around 03.20 pm, Shantha Abeyaratne, a UPFA supporter, was assaulted by a group of supporters of UNP candidate Sidney Jayaratne(candidate no 03) who came in a van(58-6644) belonging to the candidate, in Al-Hilalpura, Pulasthigama, Medirigiriya. The victim was admitted to ward no 10 of the Polonnaruwa General Hospital and subsequently discharged on 26th March.

Sydney Jayaratne denied involvement in the incident and informed CMEV that he came to know that a complaint has been lodged against him in the Pulastigama Police Station.

CMEV Field Monitor visited the Pulastigama Police Station on 25th March and confirmed the incident. According to him, a complaint (CIB2 52/131) has been lodged with the Police by the victim on the same day. Two accused and the vehicle involved in the incident were taken into the Police custody on 25th morning.

Clash between UPFA supporters in Monaragala

On 25th March 2010, CMEV received a complaint from UPFA candidate Vijitha Berugoda(candidate no 02) that UPFA candidate Vijitha Muni Soysa(candidate no 04) and his supporters attacked him and his supporters with wooden batons and stones. Three of his supporters were injured due to the attack and admitted to the Bibile District Hospital.

When contacted, Vijitha Muni Soysa informed CMEV that he was responsible for transporting people to the UPFA meeting held in Bibile yesterday, under the patronage of the President MahindaRajapakshe.  He alleges that when the people were transported to the meeting, supporters of Vijitha Berugoda obstructed them opposite his residence, and attacked the buses with stones.

CMEV learnt that both parties had made complaints to the Bibile Police Station.

On 26th March CMEV contacted the Bibile Police Station. A women police officer, who did not mention her name, confirmed that they received a complaint (EIB 212/30) from Vijitha Muni Soysaand a counter complaint (EIB 229/40) from Vijitha Berugoda.

As of 26th March CMEV has confirmed 214 incidents of election related violence, including 131 Major Incidents.Use of firearms has risen to 33.CMEV has confirmed 40 instances of the Misuse of Public Property for electioneering.