Military could be used to ensure low voter turn-out in North-East

For many, myself included, it is difficult to imagine the Rajapaksas relinquishing office on the 9th of January consequent to a defeat at the polls. Therefore the genuine concern and speculation as to what could happen. I expect the use of the military to ensure a low turn -out in areas where there is a concentration of Tamil, Muslim and non- Sinhala Buddhist votes, especially in the North and East. We know what was done in the 2013 Northern Provincial Council election and in previous national elections. In particular, 2005.

Read the full interview with Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu here, published by Colombo Mirror.

“Present The Proof!” – Interview with Dr Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu

Many local election monitors have observed grave incidents of election law violations and violence ahead of the Presidential Election whereas some government ministers have directed a number of accusations at local election observers of being biased towards the opposition common candidate Maithripala Sirisena. Speaking to The Sunday Leader, Executive Director of Centre for Policy Alternatives Dr Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu said that those are very loose accusations directed against the local observers given that the accusations are being directed by the government, the very people who are engaged in misusing and abusing state powers and resources.

Read the full interview, published in the Sunday Leader newspaper today, here.

The Contest

This is a historic, decisive election. It is the first time an incumbent has sought a third term. His victory will consolidate an authoritarian populism as the form of government and political culture. We will cease to be even the formal functioning, albeit flawed democracy, some believe we are. Rights will be irrelevant at best and subversive at worst and the roots of conflict will be sustained and reproduced.

Of course there are risks with the opposition. Most importantly, there is hope and it is most certainly more than bad enough to take the risk for the sake of the country.

Read the article by Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, published on Groundviews, in full here.

A presidential election at the height of the tourist season? An interview with Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu

For me this election is very crucial for a number of reasons.

From the fifties onwards this kind of boisterous formal democratic functions – all beautiful and all – has been growing unlike in India in the subcontinent which has been committed to institutions and processes of parliamentary democracy. Now this has got a battering over the years. I think this is probably the greatest threat, because what you have got is a dynastic project and State capture by the family headed by a populist authoritarian figure underpinned by his personal popularity – probably the most popular politician at one level. Now under the Rajapaksa regime there is no space for civil society. Rights are irrelevant at best, subversive at worst, transformed into what we called the text book East Asian model. For the first time in our history we have a military which is a major actor in politics as well as the economy. ‘It’s the Military Incorporated’.

This is new to Sri Lanka. We have had this democratic tradition since 1931 and we were the first non-white colony to have universal franchise.

Read the full interview with Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu published in The Sunday Island newspaper here or download PDF of it here.

Flagrant violation of polls laws, elections already not on a level field

Image courtesy The Economist

The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) is currently in the process of recruiting field staff for the 160 polling divisions and field co-ordinators for the 25 administrative districts in the island.

Asked whether there have been any violence so far with respect to the presidential election,Manjula Gajanayake , national co-ordinator, CMEV said: “On the day the common opposition candidate was presented to the people, several celebrating opposition parties have been threatened. In one instance, Chamila Ranasinghe, a former Pradeshiya Sabha member of the UNP and current supporter was physically assaulted at Maggona Junction.”

“However, there is a new form of violence,” he said. “The election cut outs of the incumbent president have appeared all over the island almost overnight. However, no authority has been sought for these from any of the local authorities – Municipal Councils, Urban Councils and the Pradeshiya Sabhas”.

Explaining further he said “There is a bi-law that all advertisements have to be authorized by the local government body and there is a complete violation of this law by the incumbent president and party in power.

Asked whether taxes associated with such advertising has been collected he said, “forget taxes, not even authority has been sought”.

The Sunday Island called the Mayor of Colombo, MJM Muzammil whose number appeared to be roaming out of the country yesterday. Other officials were not available for comment.

In the case of the Municipal Councils, the Mayor and in the case of the Urban Councils or Pradeshiya Sabhas, the Chairmen must grant the necessary permissions that also include the collection of the associated taxes that have to be paid.

One promoter in Colombo who did not wish to be named said “look at all the pennants, and advertisements in Colombo, they carry a number like file number. That is the reference to the authority and taxes being paid. All corporates advertising outdoors have to pay for every pennant, billboard and message out there and corporates in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) category have to adhere to these by-laws when there is such flagrant violations on the part of government. And the cost is per day, so the moment that you don’t pay the local authority brings it down. ”

Another marketing manager of a multi-national company said “Advertising costs are very high and taxes on outdoor advertising is a serious component”.

The CMEV had been formed in 1997 by the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), the Free Media Movement (FMM) and the Coalition Against Political Violence as an independent and non-partisan organization to monitor the incidence of election related violence. Currently CMEV is made up of CPA, FMM and INFORM Human Rights Documentation Centre.

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Courtesy The Island

Uva Provincial Council Elections 2014: Communiqué on Post-Election Violence

Download this PR as a PDF here.

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25 September 2014: The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) has been informed of 9 incidents of violence after the conclusion of the Uva Provincial Council elections held on 20th September 2014. The incidents reported to CMEV include incidents where UPFA supporters were involved in making threats to and/or damaging property of opposition candidates (particularly JVP and UNP). CMEV is concerned with the ongoing violence and the lack of accountability for it, which denotes the prevailing culture of impunity.

Although the Department of Police claimed to have a strict security apparatus to deal with post-election violence, these measures have been insufficient to deal with the violence that has erupted. Subsequent to the outbreak of post-election violence, the Police took action to deploy additional officers to neutralise the situation. It is evident that due to this action further violence was prevented and communities who feared an escalation of violence, reassured that this would not be the case. These incidents highlight the need for pre-empting post-election violence and taking necessary measures to prevent such situations.

CMEV is especially concerned by the incidents that transpired in Mahiyanganaya. A significant number of incidents were reported from the day of nominations to the post-election period. All three independent election observer organisations: CMEV, Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) and People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL), issued a joint statement highlighting these concerns.  Following pre-election violence that transpired in Mahiyanganaya, the Election Commissioner, at a meeting held on the 10th September requested that the Inspector General of Police (IGP) takes necessary measures to respond to the situation and to take pre-emptive measures against any outbreak of violence. The IGP thereafter deployed 30 STF personnel to the area. CMEV learns that the STF personnel were withdrawn a day prior to the election redeployed on Election Day and withdrawn once more soon after the election. These measures are contrary to what the IGP agreed to at the meeting convened by the Election Commissioner on 10th September where he gave an undertaking that the Uva province DIG would provide security to opposition parties and take steps to prevent violence in the remainder of the campaign, on Election day and the post – election period. CMEV condemns continuing violence and urges all law enforcement agencies and political party leaders to take necessary measures to prevent further violence and to take action against those who are involved in and complicit in such violence.

Following are some of the incidents recorded by CMEV in the post-election period: 

Attack on the residence of JVP Provincial Council candidate

The residence of JVP Uva Provincial Council candidate P. P. G. Wijesiri was attacked by an unidentified group at 12.30 a.m on the 22nd September. The said residence is located at Singhasiripura, Madurukatiya, Kumbukkana in Moneragala District. Subsequent to switching off street lights, the attackers shattered three windows and partially damaged a room. Mr. Wijesiri has lodged a complaint (No. 51) regarding the incident with the Moneragala Police. When contacted by CMEV, the Moneragala Police Division- Election Operation Centre confirmed that the incident was recorded.

Attack on UNP Provincial Council candidate

Roy Kalinga, former opposition leader of Wellawaya Pradeshiya Sabha and candidate of the UNP for the Uva Provincial Council, was assaulted by an unidentified group using clubs at his residence in Athili-wewa, Dambarawa, Wellawaya on the 22nd September. The group arrived in 2 white defender vehicles at 2 a.m and also attacked his vehicles. He was subsequently admitted to the Sirigala hospital in Moneragala and is being treated at ward No. 02 (photos available).  The hospital confirmed that 2 persons were admitted and the condition of Mr. Kalinga is not serious. Mr. Kalinga’s spouse lodged a complaint (No. 52) on the incident with the Wellawaya police. When contacted, Moneragala Police Division- Election Operation Centre confirmed that the incident was recorded.

Attack on the residence of JVP Provincial Council candidate’s father

The residence belonging to the father of JVP Provincial Council candidate W. M. A. K Wickramasinghe Bandara was attacked by an identified group at 12.45 a.m on the 22nd September. The residence is located at Obbegoda, Dambagalla, in Moneragala District. When contacted by CMEV, Mr. Bandara claimed that the attack was due to his father’s involvement in his election campaign. The Moneragala Police Division- Election Operation Centre confirmed that the incident was recorded as complaint No. 53.

Attack on UNP Pradeshiya Sabha member

UNP member of Hali-Ela Pradeshiya Sabha, Chandana Ranmuthugala was assaulted allegedly by UPFA supporters, identified by Mr. Ranmuthugala as Nihal and Jayaweredana. The incident occurred on the 20th September when Mr. Ranmuthugala was on his way to the Badulla counting center close to the Lunugalla polling center. Mr. Ranmuthugala was admitted to ward No. 9 in Badulla hospital. A complaint regarding the incident has been made to the Badulla Police.

Attack on UNP supporter

R.M. Gunathilaka, supporter of UNP Provincial Council candidate Harin Fernando, was assaulted at his residence at midnight  on the 20th September subsequent to threats made at 7 p.m allegedly by a group of persons led by vice chairman (UPFA) of Badulla Pradeshiya Sabha. A complaint regarding the incident has been made to the Badulla Police.

Attack on the vehicle of UNP Provincial Council candidate

Following news that the UNP party office in Hali Ela was set on fire, UNP Provincial Council candidate Harin Fernando and supporters were rushing to the area when an armed, unidentified group stoned the vehicle convoy. The incident took place around 5 p.m on 22nd September when the convoy was passing Hali Ela junction. 3 vehicles were damaged in the incident but no casualties were reported. A spokesperson for Mr. Fernando claimed that the Badulla Police took almost 2 hours to take the complaint.

The situation subsided without further violence or damage caused by the sharp weapons that were carried by the mob, due to the Police being deployed to disperse the mob. The incident took place in an area with a heavy Muslim population. The community was apprehensive about the violence. Mr. Fernando has informed CMEV that the mob blamed villagers of Hali Ela for UPFA electorate’s defeat. Mr. Fernando further informed CMEV that UPFA Badulla district MP Dilan Perera was amongst the mob. CMEV could not reach Mr. Perera for a statement.

During the incident, a journalist from the Lankadeepa newspaper, Chandana Kuruppuarachchi, was attacked by the mob. He claimed that the mob chased him for a distance of almost 1km and pelted stones at him. He was admitted to the Badulla hospital with a few broken teeth.

Attack against the Supporter of UNP Mahiyanganaya Organizer

CMEV received reports both from the field as well as through a complaint made by Upali Senaratne, UNP organizer for Mahiyangana electorate, that politicians were threatening opposition supporters in the Mahinaganaya area.

One incident was recorded at 7 p.m from Adaulpatha, Redeemaliyadda, Mahiyanganaya, where the driver of Mr. Senaratne’s, Chaminda Sampath, was allegedly attacked by supporters of UPFA MP for Badulla district, Thenuka Vidanagamage. He was later admitted to the Badulla hospital.

Another incident was recorded from the same area. Mr. Senaratne alleged that a three-wheeler belonging to Priyantha Kumara, one of his supporters, was damaged by UPFA supporters on the 22nd September.     

A further incident was reported from the Mahiyangana police station, when Mr. Senaratne and his supporters were attempting to make a complaint to the Police officer in charge of elections. Mr. Senaratne and his supporters alleged that they were threatened and beaten by supporters of UPFA Provincial Council candidate Anura Vidanagama. Mr. Vidanagama himself had at the Police station threatened Mr. Senaratne and supporters. This incident took place in the presence of ASP S. Wedamulla from the Mahiyangana Police division. When contacted by CMEV, Mr. Vidanagama claimed that these were false allegations. He directed any further inquiries to the Mahiyangana Police who he claimed was conducting an impartial investigation into the complaints.

Monitoring and Mitigating Electoral Violence Through Nonpartisan Citizen Election Observation

Monitoring-and-Mitigating-Electoral-Conflict

NDI-USA has just published Monitoring and Mitigating Electoral Violence through Nonpartisan Citizen Election Observation.

This is a guide book informed by lessons learnt around election monitoring shared by international election observers who attended a workshop held in Bangkok in 2013. The Executive Director of CPA, Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, was also part of this workshop.

NDI-USA visited CMEV to gather details for this guide, and have highlighted CMEV’s experience in several places throughout the guide, including on page 19, 30 and 52, as well as in the main Sri Lanka case study on page 81.

This is the first guide specifically focused on outlining and systematizing strategies and methods for citizen election observers to monitor and mitigate electoral violence. The guide outlines an overall approach for designing electoral violence monitoring and mitigation strategies, and then takes a practical look at four key areas in which citizen observers can contribute to mitigating electoral violence: (1) long-term election observation; (2) traditional and social media monitoring, reporting on hate speech, and contributing to media accountability; (3) crowdsourcing and visualizing electoral violence-related data; and (4) grassroots electoral violence mitigation and mediation efforts.

Download the full guide here, or visit NDI-USA’s website for specific chapters.

Final report on election related violence and malpractices: Presidential Election 2010

Download the final report on election related violence and malpractices during the Presidential Election 2010 in English here (Warning: PDF size ~120Mb).

To view the complete report online, click here or see below. Sinhala and Tamil versions of the report will be available soon.

Monitoring election violence in Sri Lanka Parliamentary Election April 2010: Media Communique 11

20 April 2010, Sri Lanka, 5pm: Re-polling in 34 polling centers in Nawalapitiya Polling Division, Kandy District and in Kumburupitiya Polling Station (Number 78), Trincomalee Polling Division, Trincomalee District was carried out between 7 am and 4pm today. CMEV monitored the re-polling with 4 mobile teams and 34 stationary monitors in Nawalapitiya and 1 mobile team and 1 stationary monitor in Kumburupitiya.

In both districts CMEV reported nine (09) incidents during the polling period including incidents of attempted impersonation, illegal casting of ballots, verbal abuse of SPOs, transporting of voters and impersonation of monitors.

CMEV notes that there were few incidents of election related violence during this re-poll. This is a significant change from April 8th when a high number of incidents were reported which resulted in the Commissioner of Elections calling for a re-poll. The violence free environment can be attributed to a high presence of police and military around polling stations. CMEV estimates a provisional voter turnout of 65% in Nawalapitiya and 46% in Kumburupitiya, Trincomalee. This demonstrates a lack of interest among voters in the present election.

CMEV reiterates the importance of free and fair elections which reinforce public confidence and ensures the integrity of the poll. CMEV has continuously called for and reiterates its call again for the immediate implementation of the 17th Amendment and the establishment of the Election Commission.

At the close of polls the following incidents were reported to CMEV:

Verbal Abuse of a SPO: CMEV Election Observer reported that Luxman Kirielle, UNP Candidate (No.08) and Ravi Karunanayake (UNP MP elected from Colombo district) had come to the Polling Station No. 05, (Senadhikari National School) at Udahenthanne around 11.40am. When the SPO informed them that Ravi Karunanayake was not entitled to enter the Polling Station, Luxmam Kirielle had verbally abused the SPO and left the polling station.

Illegal Casting of Ballot in Nawalapitiya: CMEV Election Observer reported that a person  with a bogus ballot paper attempted to vote around 1.15pm at Warakawa junior school Polling Station No. 36, in Nawalapitiya Electorate in the Kandy District. This is the second such incident reported from this Polling Station today. The earlier incident took place at around 10.10am.

Attempted Impersonation: CMEV Election Observer reported an attempt at voter impersonation at M.S. Aluthgamage Maha Vidyalaya Polling Station No. 17, in Nawalapitiya Electorate where a voter had come to cast his vote with his National ID card and his father’s Polling Card. When the Electoral Register was examined it was revealed that the name of the person with the NIC was not in the Register. He was handed over to the police by the SPO for attempting voter impersonation.

Statement on the day after Parliamentary Elections 2010

9 April 2010, Colombo, Sri Lanka: On Election Day CMEV recorded 84 Major Incidents, including 53 incidents of Intimidation within the vicinity of polling centers. This figure includes 07 incidents of involving election officials, 07 incidents of Threat and Intimidation and 06 Assaults. CMEV has recorded 189 incidents of election law violations as well. When compared to the last Presidential election, there were a higher number of incidents of election related violence on the day of the poll.

We wish to record our deep concern about incidents in which polling agents were evicted from polling stations, sometimes forcefully. Furthermore, there were cases of voter obstruction and alleged attempts to rig the results reported from Nawalapitiya and Trincomalee. We have received numerous reports regarding voter impersonation in Puttalam, Kathankudy, Akkraipattu and Pottuvil.

According to CMEV field reports, the failure of polling agents to report objections relating to malpractice and irregularities, the absence of opposition polling agents and the deliberate failure of many SPOs to implement the law with regards to verifying the identity of voters, greatly facilitated voter impersonation.

CMEV also wishes to express its concern about the confusion and disarray relating to the application of indelible ink on the ring finger of voters. There has been a clear disregard of the Election Commissioner’s directive relating to this practice. During the first few hours of polling, ink was applied to both the ring and the little fingers of many voters. CMEV received such reports from all over the country, particularly Vavuniya, Deraniyagala, Colombo, Wattala, Puttalam, Kalawewa and Minneriya. When CMEV questioned this malpractice, many SPOs stated that they were unaware of the Commissioner’s directive on this matter.

CMEV notes that the Election Commissioner has suspended the counting of ballots from 34 polling stations in Nawalapitiya, and one polling station in the Trincomalee District. CMEV requested the Election Commissioner to annul polling in the Nawalapitiya electorate due to complaints received from the field about violence and irregularities. However, as of yet the Election Commissioner has not issued a gazette notification on his decision to annul the ballots in these polling stations and hold a second poll in them.

CMEV has received a number of complaints regarding the transparency of procedures followed by election officials at polling centers. According to the complaints received, officers who issued ballot papers to voters had marked the voters’ registration number on the counter foil of the ballot paper. Complainants’ claimed that this practice directly affected the secrecy of their vote. When CMEV contacted the Election Commissioner’s department regarding this issue, CMEV was informed that this is a normal procedure followed in polling centers and that at the closure of the polling centre all counter foils should be sealed, to be reopened only upon the receipt of a direct court order. The department further added that this procedure serves to safeguard the secrecy of voter identity.

CMEV learnt that people were suspicious and even fearful of this procedure, believing that their ballot papers could be traced.  We urge the Election Commissioner to keep people well informed about election procedures, allay their doubts and fears, thereby ensuring increased and unfettered participation of voters in any election.

On the basis of the reports received from its monitors throughout the campaign and on Polling Day, CMEV concludes that as in the Presidential Election, the integrity of the electoral process has been undermined by violence and malpractice and strongly urges all actors to treat this seriously and take effective action to protect and strengthen the integrity of the process.  We also conclude that despite this, the overall result does reflect the will of the electorate.  CMEV also wishes to underscore the point that election monitors are not allowed to observe the counting of votes.

Post-Election Violence

CMEV is concerned about post-election violence. CMEV highlights the importance of the immediate post-election period, and calls upon party leaders to demonstrate their commitment and respect for the rule of law by deterring post-election lawlessness among their party supporters, and political vengeance against opponents.

CMEV continues to receive reports relating to incidents of post-election violence. A CMEV stationary monitor was assaulted by an unknown group and his observation forms snatched in Nawalapitiya, yesterday (April 8th), at around 1930 hours.

Today (April 9th) CMEV received reports detailing a clash between supporters of UPFA candidate C.B.Ratnayake (candidate no. 02) and Saliya Bandara Dissanayke, Chairman of the Central Provincial Council, in Ragala, Brookside, at around 1715 hours.

CMEV learnt that Saliya campaigned in support of UPFA candidate Naveen Dissanayake (candidate no. 04), and that H.M.Dharmapala, a supporter of Ratnayake, received a gunshot wound to the hip. This injury was allegedly inflicted by Saliya. Dharmapala has since been admitted to the District Hospital. Ralgala Police Station confirmed this incident.

Today CMEV also received reports regarding another shooting in Millawana, Matale at around 1700 hours, allegedly committed by Naradha Millawana, a UPFA member of Pallepola Pradeshiya Sabha. L.D.Nandasiri, a former member of Galewala Pradeshiya Sabha, was grievously wounded in his right eye and was admitted to the Matale General Hospital. He has subsequently been transported to the Kandy General Hospital.

CMEV also received reports regarding a clash between supporters of UPFA candidates Pavithra Wanniarachchi (candidate no. 02) and John Senaviratne (candidate no. 09) near the residence of Pavithra, located in Rilhena, Pelmadulla at around 1800 hours today. When contacted, Kahawatha Police informed CMEV that a tense situation had arisen when the two groups confronted each other, but that both groups had dispersed before the situation worsened. CMEV learnt that the alleged perpetrator was a supporter of UPFA candidate Lakshman Wasantha Perera (candidate no. 01).

CMEV is concerned about the increased intra party violence during the campaign and in the post-election period, and reiterates its call to political parties, in particular the ruling party alliance, to refrain from violence.

Parliamentary Elections 2010: Election day media communiqué No 1

8 April 2010, Colombo, Sri Lanka, 1.30pm: Polls for the Parliamentary Elections opened at 7 am this morning. A few major incidents of pre-poll violence against party supporters and polling agents were reported to the Centre for Monitoring Elections (CMEV). Following the commencement of polls a significant number of incidents mainly related to the continuing campaigning by political parties and their supporters were reported.

Problems with Procedures Relating to Voting

Discrepancies relating to Marking of Finger for Voting Purposes

CMEV was also informed of discrepancies in the use of indelible ink at polling centres across the country.  This pertains to the finger that is to be marked signifying that an individual has cast their vote.  Reports of discrepancies were from Colombo, Jaffna and Vavuniya districts where voters informed that either the little finger or the ring finger was used. There were also reports of the ink being easily removed by voters. In a notice issued on 7th April, the Commissioner of Elections reported that the ring finger was to be marked with indelible ink. Several voters informed CMEV that polling agents who were questioned on the use of the little finger instead of the ring finger as informed by the Commissioner, stated that they were unaware of such a notice. CMEV is concerned with the discrepancies in the practice of marking the finger which can lead to malpractices and to people voting more than once. CMEV urges the Commissioner and his department to immediately inform all relevant election officials of the recommended practice and to ensure that the uniform practice is followed.

Problems with Transport Arrangements for IDPs:

CMEV was informed that more than 100 voters who were residents in Manik Farm in Vavuniya were transported to Vavuniya Tamil Maha Vidyalaya instead of polling centres located in Oddusudan, Arivithotam and Nedunkeni at 10am. CMEV was informed by the Assistant Returning Officer (ARO) for transportation in Vavuniya that the IDPs had mistakenly got into the wrong bus. CMEV also spoke to several IDPs who informed that no information was given when buses had arrived at Manik Farm and that they were unaware of the exact measures for transportation. CMEV was informed by the ARO that this problem was being addressed. CMEV urges the Commissioner of Elections and his staff to take all measures necessary to ensure that all IDP voters are provided correct information in all languages and the transportation to polling centres without delay and hindrance..

Threatening of Polling Agents

Kandy District, Nawalapitiya Polling Division, Dolosbage Polling Centers (no. 10-15)

UNP Secretary for Nawalapitiya Polling Division reported to CMEV that an unidentified group of individuals wearing masks have threatened the party agents of the United National Party(UNP) and Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) at their homes. It is alleged that the group had forcibly taken the appointment letters, electoral lists and identity cards belonging to the party agents. They were also threatened not to make police complaints.

Threatening of Monitors

Puttalam District, Puttalam Polling Division, Palliwasalturei Muslim College Polling Station(no.  60):

CMEV monitors were threatened and warned not to monitor the polling process by the supporters of UPFA candidates Rishad Badudeen (No.01 of Wanni District) and K.A. Bais (No.01 of Puttalam District) when they attempted to enter Palliwasalturei Muslim College Polling Station at about 6.00 a.m.

Major Incident: Refusing Access to Monitors

Matara District , Deniyaya Electorate , Varalla MV, Polling Station (no 08)

CMEV Monitor reports that they were not allowed into the Polling Station at 8.00 am, by the Police official in charge, even after examination of his documents.

Continuous Campaigning on Election Day

CMEV received multiple reports from a number of districts relating to campaigning by political parties and their supporters after polls had opened. The main violation is the distribution of campaign material in close proximity to polling stations.

NORTH CENTRAL PROVINCE

PolonnaruwaDistrict,Polonnaruwa Polling Division, Polonnaruwa Royal Central College (No. 85) 7:40 am:

CMEV Monitor to Polonnaruwa reported that some leaflets displaying the preferential number of UNP candidates Earl Gunasekare (no 4) and Sachini Jayaratne (no 3) were seen scattered on the road to the polling station.

Polonnaruwa District, Polonnaruwa Polling Division, Polonnaruwa Royal Central Primary College (no. 85). 7:30 am

CMEV Monitor reported that some leaflets displaying the preferential numbers of UPFA candidates Maithripala Sirisena (no. 7) and Roshan Ranasinghe (no. 1) were distributed in the vicinity of the polling station.

Anuradhapura District,Kalawewa Polling Division, Mahasen Maha Vidyalaya Polling Station (no. 06), 7:55 am

CMEV mobile correspondent reported that approximately six supporters of UPFA candidate Duminda Dissanayake (n 6) were seen standing near the polling station wearing tea-shirts displaying the preferential number 06 of DumindaDissanayake

Anuradhapura District, Horowpatana Polling Division ,Mahakumbukwewa Vidyalaya (no. 32)

CMEV Mobile corresepondent reported at 7.40 am that some leaflets belonging to UPFA candidate S.M. Chandrasena (number 11), UNP candidate Sirisena Herath (number 12), and DNA candidate K.D.Lalkantha (number 7) were being distributed around the polling station.

Anuradhapura  District, Anuradhapura Polling Division,Funeral community Hall Polling station (no. 37)

CMEV Mobile correspondent reported that some leaflets of UPFA candidate Duminda Disanayake (no 6) were being distributed at around 7.45 am near the polling station by his supporters who arrived there in an ash color cab without number plates

Anuradhapura District, Horowpathana Polling Division, Kahatagasdigiliya Central College -Hall No 02 Polling Station (no 37):

CMEV Mobile representative reported that some leaflets displaying the preferential numbers of UPFA candidate Weerakumara Dissanayake(n 37) were being distributed at around 7.10 am between Upuldeniya Cross Road and Kahatagasdigiliya Central College Polling station.

SABARAGAMUWA PROVINCE

Kegalle District, Kegalle Polling Division, Pussella Gamini Junior School (no. 18):

CMEV monitor reported at 8.35 am that two members of the UPFA were seen distributing cards bearing the party symbol of the UPFA betel leaf and the candidate numbers of Jagath Balasooriya, (no. 2) and Ranjith Siyambalapitiya, (no. 8), in front of the polling station.

Kegalle District, Rambukkana Polling Division, Muwapitiya Maha Vidyalaya (no.24) :

CMEV mobile monitor reported at 8.45 am that a large number of posters belonging to UPFA candidates no. 8 Ranjith Siyambalapitiya (no. 8), Kanaka Hertat (no. 4) and Susanthika Jayasinghe (no. 12) were prominently displayed in close proximity to the polling station.

Kegalle District, Rambukkana Polling Division, Sujatha Kanishta Vidyalaya, Polling Station (no 21):

CMEV Mobile Monitor reported at 7.10 am that a three wheeler (Vehicle number 201-3853), bearing campaign stickers of candidate UPFA Kanaka Herath (no. 4) was parked near the polling station.

Kegalle District, Rambukkana Polling Division, RambukkanaPinnawalaMahaVidyalaya, Polling Station (no 27):

CMEV mobile monitor reported that at 7.00am, a Pajero (Vehicle number 32-7383), completely covered in campaign stickers of candidate Kanaka Herath (no. 4) was parked in front of the polling station for around ten minutes.

CENTRAL PROVINCE

Matale District, Dambulla Polling Division, Namatagahawatta Muslim Maha Vidyalaya polling station, (no. 41)

CMEV mobile monitor reported supporters of UPFA candidate Janaka Bandara Tennakoon (no. 5) had been seen canvassing near the above mentioned polling center requesting the voters to cast their preference for candidate no. 5 at around 8.15 am.

Matale District, Dambulla Polling Division, MalingamuwaRajaye Maha Vidyalaya, (no. 11)

CMEV mobile monitor reported that model ballot papers indicating the preference number of UPFA candidate Janaka Bandara Tennakoon (no. 5) had been distributed around the Malingamuwa Rajaye Maha Vidyalaya polling center at 7.20 am.

Nuwara-Eliya  District, Kotmale Polling Division, Kumbaloluwa Polling Center, (no. 45-46), 7.45am

CMEV field monitor reported handbills containing the preferential number of UPFA candidate J.M.C Jayasekara (no 6) had been distributed near the above mentioned polling center.

Kandy District, Nawalapitiya Polling Division, Saint Andrews Boys School Polling Center, (no. 57), 9.00 am: CMEV Field Monitor

CMEV Field Monitor reported that 6 Auto Rickshaws pasted with a poster of the preferential number of UPFA candidate Mahindananda Aluthgamage (no 4) were parked in front of the polling station for around ten minutes. At the same polling centre a group of 20 people had gathered around the auto rickshaws displaying campaign material.

Matale District, Matale Polling Division, Matale Smaliya Muslim Rajaye Maha Vidyalaya Polling Center, (no. 36)

CMEV Monitor reported that a 7 feet cut out of UPFA candidate, Hilmy Careem (no 2) had been prominently displayed near a shop located near the above mentioned polling center and had not been removed.

NORTH WESTERN PROVINCE

Kurunagala District, Galgamuwa Electorae, Janasetha Samurdhi Madura Polling Station (no. 31): The gatekeeper has influenced the voters so as to cast their votes to preferential number 15 of UPFA candidate about 7.45 a.m.

Kurunagala District, Mawathagama Polling Division, Pillassa Maha Vidyalaya Polling Station (no. 26): Some cards displaying the candidate number and the name of the UPFA candidate Johnston Fernando were distributed in the vicinity of the polling station at about 7.50 a.m.

Puttalam District, Puttalam Polling Division, St. Mary’s Junior School Polling Station (no. 36): Some leaflets displaying the candidate numbers of the UPFA candidates Indrani Dassanayake, K.A. Bais and the UNP candidate Kinsleylal Fernando were seen distributed around the polling station about 7.15 a.m.

Puttalam District, Puttalam Polling Division, St. Andrews Central College, Polling Station (no. 28): Some leaflets displaying the preferential numbers of the UPFA candidates Indrani Dassanayake, K.A. Bais and the UNP candidate Kinsleylal Fernando were seen distributed around the polling station about 7.19 a.m.

EASTERN PROVINCE:

Trincomalee district, Muttur Polling Division, al-HambraMahaVidyalaya, polling station (no, 30):

CMEV monitor reported that UPFA supporters of S.M. Tawfik (no. 6), have been observed at around 9.30 am openly canvassing for him after polls opened. In some cases, the voters have been offered food and beverages from a boutique located 50 meters away from the polling station.

Transportation of Voters

Ratnapura District, Kolonna Polling Division, Maduwanwela Sri SaranandaVidyalaya, Polling station (no. 76):

CMEV Monitor Reported that a small bus bearing the candidate number of United People’s Freedom Alliance UPFA) candidate (no. 7) transported a group of garment factory workers and other voters to the polling station at around 7.30 am.

Sri Lanka Parliamentary Election 2010: Postal Voting, Media Communiqué 2

25th March 2010, Colombo, Sri Lanka: CMEV is deeply concerned by reports alleging attempts to disenfranchise postal voters by officials in their capacity as certifying officers in particular.

CMEV deployed 185 Mobile Monitors and 150 Stationary Monitors today (25 March 2010) to monitor the postal voting and intends to have the same deploy tomorrow.

CMEV recorded 25 postal voting related incidents today. As of 24th March CMEV has recorded a cumulative total of 192 incidents including 121 Major Incidents.

The Major Incidents related to the postal voting are highlighted below:

Sabaragamuwa Province

Zonal Education Office, Warakapola

On 24th March CMEV received a complaint from Dedigama UNP party office alleging that 05 non- government employees were included in the list of postal voters. According the list M.P.Jayaweera of 4th Regiment, Palali, has been named as the certifying officer.

On 25th CMEV contacted a voter who was named in the above list.  He stated that he is not a government employee and that he was not aware of how his name came to be included on the postal voting list. He suspects that someone has intentionally done this in order to deny his voting rights, as he is a UNP supporter.

When contacted Mr.Jayaweera informed CMEV that he is a government teacher at Nivatuwa Maha Vidyalaya and that he had also applied for postal voting and marked his postal vote at Zonal Education Office, Warakapola today. He further explained that he came to know about the incident yesterday through the Grama Niladhari of his division and that his forged signature has been used in the application.

CMEV contacted P.A. Senaratne, Assistant Election Commissioner of Kegalle District. He informed CMEV that mistakenly their names were replaced with similar names of government employees. He said that they have been identified and that postal ballots were not sent to them. He further assured CMEV that he has taken measures to make arrangements for them to cast their votes on 08th April.

On 25th March at around 03.10 pm, CMEV contacted the Kegalle District Returning Officer, Mrs.D.M.P.Dissanayake on this account. She informed CMEV that she came to know about the incident yesterday evening and they have started an investigation into the matter. She also said that the perpetrators are yet to be identified.

CMEV will raise the issue with the Election Commissioner and urge him to ensure a detailed investigation into the incident.

Rambukana Pradeshiya Sabah

According to the CMEV Monitor, as of 11.30 am, a double cab(252-6894), a tipper( CP LC 9201) and a van(SB TA 4399) were parked within the premises of Rambukana PS. The vehicles were decorated with the propaganda material of UPFA candidate Kanaka Herath(candidate no 04). Fifty –two (52) postal votes were registered at the centre.

Central Province

Leminiar Tami Vidyalayam,Nuwara-Eliya

On 25th March, CMEV received reports regarding an alleged attempt to deny voters’ rights in Nuwara-Eliya.

According to two teachers of Leminiar Tamil Vidyalaya, namely Saraswathi Pawani and Mrs.Rajakumran, they did not receive their postal ballots though they had applied for postal voting. They alleged that the Principal of the School did not submit their applications as they are supporters of National Union of Workers, an ally of UNP.

A.Nagarajah a UNP Member of the Kotagala Pradeshiya Sabha informed CMEV that the two  teachers were the only postal voters who did not receive postal ballots. He alleges that the principal did this on purpose to deny UNF voters of the franchise.

CMEV contacted the Zonal Education Office, Nuwara-Eliya, B.Dharmasisiri Ranasinghe, an administrative officer of the department. He told CMEV that they were not sent postal ballots because their applications had not been received.

Uva Province

Mahiyangana Zonal Education Office: At around 03.35 pm CMEV Field Monitor reported that 245 applications for postal voting were rejected by the respective Zonal Education Director, Mr.Susil Wijeyatilaka due to late submission.

CMEV contacted Susil Wijetilaka who informed CMEV that he received applications from staff until 26th of February and due to the transportation problems he was unable to submit the applications on the due date. He further stated that he informed the Assistant Election Commissioner’s Office on 26th February that he was unable to handover the applications on the due date and an officer instructed him to send the applications by post. Mr.Susil Wijetialka has sent the applications by post, they were rejected and he has no record of who he spoke to.

CMEV contacted A.T.M.Talangama, Assistant Election Commissioner of the Badulla District. He stated that they acted according the rules and that the deadlines given by the Election Commissioner and the Director of Mahiyangana Zonal Education Office was responsible for his delay.

CMEV has learnt that most of the applicants have applied for election duty and might lose their right to vote.

Western Province

Maharagama Urban Council

At around 01.00 pm, CMEV Field Monitor reported that UPFA candidate Sudharman Radaliyagoda(candidate no 05) and a group of supporters wearing T-Shirts and Caps displaying the candidate’s number were seen within the premises of the Council.

At around 01.20 pm, R.A.Somawathi, Certifying Officer of the centre, informed CMEV that they were present in the morning and that she had instructed them to leave the premises.  She further stated that since she was inside the building, she was not aware of whether they have entered again . She assured CMEV that she would look into the matter.

Forest Department Head Office, Malabe

On 25th March, the CMEV Field Monitor reported that 19 postal vote applications were rejected due to their late submission.

Eastern Province

CMEV Field Monitors reported that they found the tops of ballot paper envelopes stuck in several postal voting centres.  CMEV recorded 02 instances from the Paddiruppu electorate and 01 incident from the Batticaloa electorate.

CMEV contacted the Assistant Election Commissioner of Batticaloa, T. Krishnanandalingam. He informed CMEV that this was a mistake and that they had deployed a mobile team to re-issue valid envelopes to postal voters.

Kinniya Urban Council

At around 11.10 am, CMEV Field Monitor reported that a black Pajero(WP C-655) displaying the beetle symbol and candidate no 07 was parked inside the premises of Kinniya PS. Seventeem (17) postal votes were registered at the centre.

Southern Province

Sooriyawewa Police Station

According to the CMEV Field Monitor all postal voting applications of the Sooriyawewa Police Station have been rejected by the certifying officer B.G.S.Sumanasinghe, OIC of the Sooriyawewa Police Station, on grounds of late submission. An officer attached to the Hambantota Assistant Election Commissioner’s office confirmed the incident.

Bopey-Poddala Pradeshiya Sabah

At around 12.40 pm, CMEV Field Monitor reported that supporters of UPFA candidates namely Rev.Baddegama Samitha(candidate no 09) and Piyasena Gamage(candidate no 03) and UNP candidate Wijyapala Hettiarachchi(candidate no 11) were campaigning for their respective candidates using the public addressing system near the Bopey-Poddala Pradeshiya Sabha. They came in separate vehicle convoys. CMEV Field Monitor has identified two vehicles as follows;

A cab (WPC 100299) belonging to Piyasena Gamage

A three-wheel (SP GE 2660) belonging to Wijayapala Hettiarachchi