Presidential Election 2019 -MEDIA COMMUNIQUE 29th October 2019

Presidential Election 2019 Media Communiqué, 29th October 2019

Colombo, Sri Lanka

In the 40 days since the announcement of the 2019 Presidential Election, the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) has recorded 534 verified incidents of election law violations. The following trends have been particularly observable recently:

Using minors for political promotions

The election period has seen the continued use of minors in various ways to promote the presidential candidates. The National Child Protection Authority has already made it clear that it is wrong to use minors for political promotion.

In the following cases and instances, the Sri Lanka Podu Jana Peramuna (SLPP) and the New Democracy Front (NDF) have directly violated these legal provisions:

  1. Use of minors in school uniform for a propaganda advertisement of Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, the presidential candidate of SLPP.
  2. Use of a school uniformed minor for the newspaper advertisement of SLPP.
  3. Use of minors in the the photograph of Mangala Samaraweera, Minister and representative of the NDF election campaign, and circulating that picture on social media.
  4. Use of a child with body paint for political promotion at a SLPP rally in Uva Paranagama on 25th October 2019.
  5. Use of minors’ pictures in the website of SLPP candidate Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.

CMEV has already made a written complaint to the National Child Protection Authority regarding these matters.

Using Government School Premises for Election Campaigns

CMEV was informed that the SLPP attempted to use the Galenbindunu Wewa primary school ground for a public rally with the direct intervention of the North Central Province Governor. This is despite there being numerous available places for holding public rallies in the Anuradhapura Gallenbindunu Wewa town.

The use of government school premises for campaign purposes and the intervention of high level public officials sets entirely the wrong precedent.

Not displaying election candidate and symbol during campaigning

The SLPP reportedly did not display its candidate and its ballot symbol in the pandol (thoarana) which was built in Minuwangoda town along the road, but photographs of the party leader and other regional organisers have been displayed. According to election law, it is illegal to display the pictures of the candidate and symbol.

Engaging in election campaigns that disturbed to religious and national reconciliation

During the election period, a number of campaign activities, especially by the Podu Jana Eksath Peramuna, demonstrate extremist national and religious views in various forms. For example, a female councilor in Kandy was arrested while spreading leaflets with extremist opinions. That leaflet was a violation of section 85 of the Presidential Election Act, No. 15 of 1981 meaning that the leaflet did not display the publisher and printer.

Thank you

……………………………

Manjula Gajanyake,
National Co-ordinator,
CMEV

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Presidential Election 2019 -MEDIA COMMUNIQUE 20th October 2019

MEDIA COMMUNIQUÉ

12 hours, 20th October 2019, Colombo, Sri Lanka – Assault on supporters of the New Democratic Front, Western Province, Kaluthara District, Panadaura Electorate.

As reported to CMEV last night, on 19th October 2019 an SLPP supporter has assaulted two supporters of New Democratic Front. It was further reported to CMEV that the aforesaid supporter has intimidated those two supporters of NDF by showing a light fire arm in his possession.

This is the first instance of intimidation in the presidential election where a light fire arm has been used, following the submission of nominations on 7th of October.

The two NDF supporters, M.S. Nihalsinghe and Nawarathna Banda, were intimidated by the show of a light fire arm while passing the Wadduwa cemetery by Sisira Mendis, a supporter of  Sri Lanka Pudujana Peramuna.  As reported to CMEV he has arrived at the scene by a Pajero bearing the number plate CAA 1544. As disclosed to CMEV by Nihalsinghe who had been subjected to the assault, Sisira Mendis has been under the influence of alcohol at the time in which the assault took place.

Furthermore M.S. Nihalsinghe, who was assaulted has made a complaint to Wadduwa Police station regarding this incident under CIB 2’27/153. There is a possibility of suspicions arising due to this incident not being reported as an election related complaint in spite of the conclusive evidence of its affiliation with elections.

It has been further reported to CMEV that although this incident involves an intimidation carried out using light fire arm, the suspect has been bailed out shortly without any difficulty.

While making a statement to CMEV, Nihalsinghe mentioned that Sisira Mendis who has been accused for the assault is a strong supporter of SLPP SLPP and the fact that he clearly mentioned the involvement of the light fire arm in the said incident during his statement given to the police. Upon further probing the matter further with this regard, however, CMEV learnt from the OIC of Wadduwa police station that M.S. Nihalinghe had not mentioned the involvement of the light fire arm in his statement given to the police.

It is the view of CMEV that the perpetuation of violence and assault by the supporters of different political parties in various locations should not be treated as isolated incidents in a context where a decrease can be seen with regard to the election related violence in Sri Lanka. CMEV wishes to emphasise that political leaders as well as regional politicians must extend their fullest support towards the concerted efforts of the Election Commission and Sri Lanka Police in order to ensure a free and fair election.

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Promotion of Political Candidates and Political Parties by Staff Officers and Government Officials

Mr. Mahinda Deshapriya, Chairperson, Mr. Naleen Abesekara, PC, Member, Prof. Ratnajeevan Hoole, Member,

Election Commission of Sri Lanka,

Election Secretariat,

Sarana Road,

Rajagiriya.

25/10/2019

Dear Mr. Chairperson and Members of the Election Commission,

Promotion of Political Candidates and Political Parties by Staff Officers and Government Officials

We believe that the interventions of your esteemed Commission have considerably mitigated the negative trend of staff officers and other government officials engaging in promoting and demoting political parties and candidates as well as expressing their personal political views during the upcoming presidential election.

In this context, we wish to bring to your attention that the chairperson of the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA), Dr. Anuruddha Padeniya, attended a political promotion campaign event held by Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the presidential candidate of Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), at the Nelumpokuna Auditorium on 25/10/2019. The event was for the launch of Mr. Rajapaksa’s election manifesto, and Dr. Padeniya was seen attending the main plenary.

This conduct is not only in defiance of the Establishment Code of Sri Lanka which must be abided by all government officials, but is also in violation of Circular No. 01, 6 (II) dated 18/09/2019 issued by the Election Commission. We are of the view that the pre-election period leading up to the presidential election will be severely compromised if staff officers of other government services consider this as a precedent and follow the same conduct.

Accordingly, we wish to request the Commission under your direction to take the necessary measures pertaining to the aforesaid matters with immediate effect. The kind cooperation extended by your institution in this regard, to uphold democratic values and to ensure a free and fair election, is greatly appreciated.

Thank You,

Manjula Gajanayake,
National Co-ordinator,
Centre for Monitoring Election Violence.

Copies:

  • Mr. Dharmasena Dissanayake, Chairperson, Public Service Commission, Battaramulla
  • Mrs. Vasantha Perera, Secretary, Ministry of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine, Colombo 10
  • Mr. Jagath Abeysiriwardhana, Senior Deputy Inspector General (Elections), Sri Lanka Police
  • Director, National Election Complaint Management Center, Election Commission, Rajagiriya.

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Disclosure of Campaign Costs of Candidates Contesting Presidential Election 2019

A special unit established at CMEV to track election campaign cost of the presidential election 2019 launched its first interim report at HARTI Centre Colombo 07 today morning. This is the first time in election history to disclose election campaign costs and Dr. Psaravanamuttu, Co-convener of CMEV, Manjula Gajanayake of CMEV and Ransi Karunarathne , Project Coordinator attended at this event. Disclosed data and statistics which provide Estimated Election Campaign Costs of election candidates can be obtained here and next interim report will be published closer to polling day on November 16, 2019.

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Media Conference

A special unit established at CMEV to  track election campaign  cost of the presidential election 2019 and launching its first interim report at 11AM at HARTI centre Colombo 07. This is the first time in election history  to disclose election campaign costs. 

Elpitiya Local Authorities Election 2019

The Local Authorities Election which is to be held for the election of members in the Elpitiya Pradeshiya Sabha (Divisional Council) in Galle district, will be held today, the 11th of October 2019, involving 47 polling centers.

155 candidates will be contesting to represent five (5) recognized political parties in this election.

26 local authority members will be elected by 53,384 qualified electors during this election and the results of which will be announced at the counting center established at the vocational training center of Elpitiya, followed by counting of votes undertaken at the respective polling centers themselves.

The specialty of this particular election is, failing to commence the election in this district in tandem with the election held in all other local authorities on the 10th of February 2018 owing to the ruling 12/2018 that was given by the court in conjunction with the returning officer of Galle District refusing the nominations submitted by one of the contesting political parties.

CMEV held its Residential Training Session for District/Field monitors

The Centre For Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV), initiated in 1997, has contributed to the electoral reforms through a thorough election observation process.

The institution created a database of election results and information about violence perpetrated in a variety of elections (such as presidential, general and provincial). Once the Election Commission announced the commencement of elections, CMEV re-initiated its election observation mission on the 18th of September. The organisation has mobilised their operations for the upcoming Presidential Election slated for the 16th of November 2019.

CMEV held its residential training session for district/field monitors on 11th of October at the Janaki Hotel, Colombo 5. Almost 100 participants from all 25 administrative districts gained exposure to: Election Law, election observation process, contemporary political climate and the misuse of state resources.