Presidential Election 2019 Media Communiqué, 25th October 2019
Colombo, Sri Lanka
During the 36 days which have elapsed since the announcement of the presidential election of Sri Lanka, CMEV has recorded 464 verified incidents of election law violations. The highest number of incidents have been reported from Western and Southern provinces. Among those complaints 198 incidents were reported against New Democratic Front (NDF) and 186 incidents against the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP). It is critical to observe that around 16 incidents of violence including assault and threats have been reported thus far.
The following are some of the trends that have been observed over the last seven days in relation to the pre-election period:
Governors of several provinces have been involved in presidential election campaigns in support of candidates while misusing state resources for campaigning
Provincial governors have been involved in campaigning promoting presidential candidates while serving as the representatives of President and chairing Provincial Public Service Commission. A.J.M Musammil, Peshala Jayarathna and Hemal Gunasekara, serving as the governors of Western, North Western and Southern Provinces respectively, are misusing resources belonging to their respective Provincial Councils to promote the SLPP candidate.
Incidents relating to threats and assaults
Particular attention should be given to the critical situation where numerous politicians have threatened and used verbal abuse against supporters of opposition parties. This has occurred especially at the regional level.
Usage of social media during the pre- election period.
It is difficult to ignore the fact that the authorities of Facebook have not been proactive in promptly responding to the measures taken by the Election Commission in curbing the spread of hate speech and disinformation. This is in spite of social media networks such as Facebook playing a critical role in disseminating information pertaining to elections. CMEV has closely observed the negative direction towards which the contributions of social media networks such as Facebook is headed. This is despite their potential to be immensely instrumental in the progress of the electoral process of Sri Lanka. CMEV believes that a broader social discourse must be created around Facebook’s reliance on the community standards set out by their own institution. Facebook’s inconsistencies in applying the standards and failure to deal with the language complexities in Sri Lanka is greatly exacerbating the spread of hate speech and misinformation during the election. This is crucial particularly in because Sri Lanka is moving towards a period where several elections are to be held within a close period.
Accordingly, CMEV is in the process of compiling a comprehensive report on the role that has been adopted by social media institutions in light of the upcoming presidential election. This report will be published by the end of the presidential election.
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Mr. Mahinda Deshapriya, Chairperson, Mr. Naleen Abesekara, PC, Member, Prof. Ratnajeevan Hoole, Member,
Election Commission of Sri Lanka,
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.
Centre for Monitoring Election Violence.
- 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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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.
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.
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.
Media Communique, 1500 H, 12th October 2019 in Colombo, Sri Lanka Elpitiya Local Authorities Election 2019
The Local Authorities Election was held on the 11th of October 2019 and involved 47 polling centers electing members of the Elpitiya Pradeshiya Sabha in Galle, Southern Province.
One hundred and fifty –five (155) candidates contested representing five (5) political parties in the election. Twenty eight (28) local authority members, were elected by 53,384 eligible electors. The voter turnout was 75%.
This particular election was important because of the delay in holding it, due to the judicial proceedings which led to the court ruling of 12/2018 together with the incident of the Returning Officer, Galle District, refusing the nominations submitted by one of the contesting political parties.
Election day ended without any critical incidents of election-related violence and misconduct. Moreover, the pre-election period remained peaceful and does not challenge the final result.
CMEV monitors have reported the following minor violations:
Polling center designated at Omaththa Kanishta Vidyalaya, Galle (02:A)
Posters and other promotional material displayed at either side of the road of the polling center throughout the Election Day. Several candidate posters representing the main political party candidates (UNP, SLPP and SLFP) had reportedly been on display.
Polling Center designated at Thalgaspe Kanishta Vidyalaya (05:B)
CMEV learned that a female had been coercing the people to vote for SLPP near the polling center. She had encouraged voters to cast their votes for the SLPP candidate Malliyawadu Nalin Chaminda Priyadarshana.
Polling Center designated at Ananda Madyamaha Vidyalaya, Elpitiya, Galle (11:C)
CMEV observers noted that a convoy of vehicles led by M.P. Palitha Thewarapperuma displayed promotional posters of certain candidates while traveling with few other candidates across several polling centers (The vehicles bore the registration
numbers: KR 6312, CAW6990,GZ 2665 and WP 21483). The presence of such a convoy of vehicles near the polling centers had been a challenge to the maintenance of a peaceful environment in a polling area.
Polling Center designated at Pinikahana Siriniwasa Kanishta Vidyalaya, Galle (16:A)
Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) candidate Jayaneththi Arachchi Janaka Kumara (candidate listed under the additional list), had been appealing the voters to vote for his party while standing near the polling center. A defender vehicle (registration number. P G 0007) was involved in this incident.
It is the eighth decade that’s being elapsed since Sri Lanka was bestowed with universal franchise. Apart from few instances, which took place in certain elections, Sri Lanka could boast of a proud history in terms of elections with a unique identity. If any electoral reform regardless of its model or approach, should take place following the tradition that reflects the Sri Lankan identity in elections. Not a single country in the world has formulated a perfect election system.
Accordingly, a certain level of regulation should be exercised on campaign finances with a proper understanding about the prevailing political background in the country. Hence a regulating mechanism should be formulated through a series of consultative discussions with the involvement of Election Commission, political parties, Election Observing Organizations and other stakeholders. The following points should be taken into account in such an undertaking that is carried out with the legal sphere.
Introducing fundamental requisites on assets and liabilities of political parties and candidates should become the basis to any regulatory mechanism.
Regardless of the nature of regulatory mechanism thus introduced, it should not distance the politician from the elector. It is essential to make sure that such a mechanism does not curtail the freedom of expression.
The politicians should be convinced that the money is received as a privilege for engaging in responsible politics. Accordingly it is important to discuss about the ways of refining the mechanism to be agreeable for both the politicians and the voters while considering the need for inculcating the useful best practices and elements of other systems adopted and recognized internationally.
ශ්රී ලංකාවේ මැතිවරණ ව්යාපාර මුල්යකරණය පිලිබඳ මෙතෙක් කිසිදු නීතිමය යාන්ත්රණයක් සකස්ව නැත. පිරිසිදු දේශපාලන සංස්කෘතියක් වෙනුවෙන් එවැනි නීතියක් හඳුන්වා දීම සඳහා එක්වෙමු. ඒ පිලිබඳ පසුබිම විමසා පළකරන විශේෂාංග ලිපි මාලාවක් මෙහි දැක්වේ.
Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) initiated a voter education programme called ‘Provincial Council Elections Voter Education and Outreach Programme’ with the support of USAID-DAI (SDGAP). The main focus is to invoke awareness for women candidates who are willing to contest in the next provincial councils elections to be held island-wide. CMEV is planning to conduct a series of district-level awareness workshops inviting selected prospective candidates across the country.
The Seventh in this series of workshops was conducted at Peradeniya University in Kandy. Over 70 women activists including women members of Local government, active supporters of political parties, women CSO leaders and selected students attended in this one day awareness training. Mr. Namal Thalangama, Deputy Commissioner of Elections, Kandy District was delivered the key note speech in this event. CMEV organised this event in partnership with the faculty of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya.
A Civil Society Committee was brought together by the Centre for Motioning Election Violence (CMEV) and the People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) to review the Provincial Council Election System and to make appropriate recommendations. The committee commenced reviewing the Provincial Council (Amendment) Election Act on the 1st of June 2018 and the released their report with recommendations within 2 months of commencing the task.
“As a civil society group committed to supporting our elected representatives to do the right thing, we respectfully submit that the Parliament should act to:
- Immediately clear misunderstandings about the Mixed Member Proportional Representation Method,
- Address the real issues concerning the method through suitable legislation, and
- Conduct elections without delay for all relevant Provincial Councils whose terms have ended.”
The committee has already submitted a complete report with recommendations to the relevant parties including the Speaker of the Parliament, Minister of Provincial Councils & Local Government Faiszer Musthapha, as well as all main political party leaders. Ministry of Provincial Councils & Local Government has undertaken to submit this report for the consideration of Cabinet members on 07th August 2018.
Dr. P. Saravanamuttu, Executive Director of Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) and the Co-convener of Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV), Rohana Hettiarachchi, Executive Director of People’s Action for Free & Fair Elections (PAFFREL), Prof. Sudantha Liyanage, Dean, Faculty of Applied Science, University of Sri Jayawardenepura, Manjula Gajanayake, National Coordinator of Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) and Amar Gunatileke, Chief Executive Officer of Marga Institute attended the media conference on the 2nd of August 2018 at the Public Library Auditorium, Colombo 07.
Manjula Gajanayake, National Coordinator of CMEV on RanOneFM’s ‘7.17’.
He spoke about the criticism made by political parties and other relevant parties regarding the Local Government Election system which was applied for the recently concluded elections. Further he gave his insights with regard to the current situation on holding of Provincial Councils Elections. Additionally, he particularly mentioned on the Civil Society Review Committee of the New Provincial Councils Elections Act.
Watch the discussion here.
The Election Commission of Sri Lanka celebrated Voters Day for the third time since its establishment, with a national event at Kegalle town hall on 01st June 2018. District level celebrations were also organized by district election officers across the country. CMEV also extended its support and representatives attended this series of events.
In 2013, the Commissioner of Elections declared June 1st ‘Voters Day’. It was made mandatory through the enumeration process that all eligible Sri Lankan citizens who are 18 years of age or above must be registered as electors on this day every year.
This new list is the only one that can be used for any election conducted after the month of October 2018. Grama Niladharis undertakes the enumeration and special enumerators are appointed for this work in the Colombo and Negombo Municipal Council Areas.
Northern Province Coordinator for the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) Nirmala Bernard Joseph gives a situation update as at the close of polls for the Local Government elections. Video in Tamil.
Head of operations at the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence ( CMEV), Manjula Gajanayake shares an update at the close of polls during the local Government election on February 10. Video in Sinhalese.