CMEV together with the Gender and Election Working Group(GEWG) conducted a press conference on 09 January 2023 to request all political parties to ensure better representation and safer participation for women in Local Government Elections. D.M. Dissanayake, Chief of Operation, CMEV stated that Sri Lanka is still considered a country with a lower women’s representation in politics according to the world classification in 2022 by the Inter-Parliamentary Union and Global Gender Gap index in 2021. Still, the 25% women quota introduced in 2017 has not been able to fulfil the expected participation of women in politics.
Ms Kanaka Abeygunawaradana, Convener of the GEWG pointed out that women’s representation is still limited to the legal requirement of the nomination process. Most of the women who contested in the last LG elections entered into politics as they were relatives of male politicians or close friends of party officials. She urged all political parties to give priority to active and capable women at the village level to include in nomination lists. Ms Abeygunawardana further emphasized that political parties should take necessary actions to prevent any illegal, unethical and seriously flawed practices such as asking for sexual bribes, support for some other male candidates’ campaigns or resigning after the election to give the seat to a senior person/male in the party. Ms Nalini Rathnarajah, a member of the GEWG, pointed out various forms Gender Based Violence that take place during the time of the election.
Ms Nanda Kumarihami represented Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) emphasized the issues persons with disabilities face within the electoral process and the importance of electoral systems and processes being inclusive and responsive to their needs and requirements. She addressed the press conference with the sign language facility.
Mr.Telibert Laoc, Senior Director for Elections and Civil Society Development, NDI, Asia met Dr.Saravanamuttu, Executive Director of CPA and Co-convenor of CMEV, and CMEV staff on March 22, 2022, to discuss current electoral developments in Sri Lanka and possible future collaborations. Laoc has been a long-time friend of campaigners of democracy in Sri Lanka.
One of the focus areas of which the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) has been vocal in parallel with the electoral reform process in Sri Lanka since several decades ago, is the need to regulate unlimited election campaign expenditure in Sri Lanka and to introduce an appropriate legislative mechanism. It is gratifying to note that there has been a strong social focus on this election-related theme at the time, and the Centre for Election Violence Monitoring has also spearheaded various initiatives aimed at continuing a broader social dialogue on the subject matter.
As part of the series of online programs being organized on the above topic, another such program being arranged to be conducted in collaboration with the ‘Next Generation’. We look forward to discussing the challenges facing young political activists in this country in the face of unregulated and unlimited election campaign finances, and we hope that all citizens who aspire to a Level Playing Field in the electoral process will join us in this discussion.
Women’s political activism became more active in the country around 1919 with the island-wide movement for women’s suffrage. Even though it has been more or less the opportunity to contest elections since then, getting nominations for women activists is still not an easy task. The forthcoming Provincial Council election will certainly be a challenging occasion. If given a chance, there are a large number of women political activists who aspire to contest elections.
This issue was also discussed extensively during a series of training programs for women political activists organized by the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) in collaboration with IRI and this short video contains the views expressed by R.Iresha Udeni Hettihewa of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) who participated in this Uva Provincial Workshop.
CMEV is passionate about women’s political activism in the country and continues to promote and encourage women’s political activism.
Simultaneously, a series of workshops were held covering the entire island in the recent past. Here is a very short video made of the opinions shared by Surangi Samaratunga, a Member of the Anuradhapura Municipal Council representing the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) at the workshop held in the North Central Province.
CMEV organized the event in collaboration with the International Republican Institute (IRI) as part of a Series of Post- Election Assessment Workshops with Women Local Government Representatives and Political Activists.
SLBC Swadesheeya Sevaya invited Manjula Gajanayake, National Coordinator of CMEV and Rohana Hettiarachchi, Executive Director of PAFFREL to discuss the upcoming local government elections with the purpose of spreading awareness through it’s morning show ‘Subarathi’.
Manjula Gajanayake, National Co-ordinator of CMEV together with Rohana Hettiarachchi, Executive Director of Paffrel were invited to speak on Siddahamulla, a popular morning talk show hosted by V FM on weekdays.
Both of the representatives discussed the special features of the new election system to be put into practice at the upcoming local government elections and also concerning on the method that will be followed to select representatives within this new system. Furthermore in the discussion, they unveiled the strategies and plans of their election observation process to be implemented in the forthcoming local government elections and also conferred the role of voters in this specific election.
Manjula Gajanayake, National Co-ordinator of CMEV, was invited to attend the programme ”Public Spacce” that’s aired weekly on ART TV which is a platform where current topics are discussed. Mr. Gajanayake spoke about the special features of the new election system which will be put into practice at the next local government election and about the method that will be used to select the representatives within this new system. Furthermore, he unveiled the observations of CMEV regarding the perceived reasons for the delay of the long-awaited Local Government Election and who are the responsible parties for the said delay.
The local government elections that is due to be held in the near future has given rise to numerous critical issues in the political sphere for 2 main reasons. Firstly, the uncertainty of the date of elections and secondly, the different definitions and interpretations’ which are made, based on the new law which will be adopted in commencing the said elections.
The next local government elections will be held in accordance with the new Act introduced in the year 2012, as the Act no 22 of 2012 Local Government Election (Amendment). Since there are several amendments introduced by the parliament related to this act, and due to the way in which the whole country has been divided in line with this law, the actual situation is misunderstood by the general public.
In order to shed light on some of the confusing facts related to aforementioned issues, CMEV has formulated and presented this questionnaire with the answers of Mr. Mahinda Deshapriya.
In this interview he has taken all the prevailing issues and basic details pertinent to the new law into consideration. Furthermore, he has explained the steps taken by election commission leading up to the election with the intent of clarifying the doubts arisen with the allegations leveled by various civic engagement groups and political parties regarding the lack of proactive engagement visible in fulfilling the role of the Election Commission in commencing the LG elections.
Manjula Gajanayake, the National Co-ordinator of the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence, was invited to share his views and insights on the upcoming Local Government Elections and the current situation of Provincial Councils elections, at the radio talk-show ‘7.17’ aired on RanOne FM.
In this programme, Manjula Gajanayake highlighted various issues pertaining to the postponement of 2 elections: namely Local Government and Provincial Council Elections. Though the minister of local government and provincial councils Mr. Faizer Mustafa stated that the Local government elections can be duly held during the month of January 2018, the relevant ministry is yet to fulfill basic requirements such as publishing gazette notification on the constituency of new local government authorities as LG elections to be held under new electoral system. And this time, the members will be increased in number as twice as the previous times in comparison due to the introduction of new electoral system which is a mix of FPPT and PR. Meanwhile, government has introduced a new electoral system to the provincial councils which is known as mix system that’s comprising. of 50% each of PR and FPTT.
However he also emphasized that the hasty manner in which these changes were made is contradictory to the principle of representative democracy. One of the salient issues observed in the process of approving the relevant bill is that the government has not allowed the general public to scrutinize and to create any public debate with this regard.
Furthermore, he mentioned that the promises made by the line minister regarding the dates of local government elections were not true and hence it is difficult to have faith on the remarks he has been making in relation to the dates of elections.
Another important point he made during the interview was that the government is required to take appropriate measures to use the existing delimitation commission without setting up separate delimitation committees with the participation of political party members. One can’t deny the fact that the government has used previous delimitation committees to postpone the elections.
As the Election Commission is updating the electoral register for 2016, all eligible Sri Lankans are invited to get themselves registered in this list. It is the only list which can be used for any of future election which will be conducted after the month of October 2016.
Exercise of franchise is a main civic right and the theme of this year introduced by the Election Commission is ‘The electoral process where no elector is to be left behind’. In order to make people aware of this, popular radio channel ‘RAN One FM’ dedicated their morning show called‘7:17’ to discuss matters related to electoral registry of 2016. The National Coordinator of CMEV Mr. Manjula Gajanayake attended this program and this is the audio recording of said program.
Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu and Mr. D.M. Dissanayake, respectively the co-convenor and national coordinator of CMEV give their first impressions of voter turnout and violence at the polls over the course of the day.