North Central and Sabaragamuwa Provincial Council Elections – 23rd August 2008 18.30 hrs – Media Communiqué No 6

CMEV

North Central and Sabaragamuwa Provincial Council Elections

23rd August 2008 – Media Communiqué No. 6

On Election Day CMEV has received 42 complaints of election related violence of which 27 have been classified as major incidents. These include seizing of polling cards, threat and intimidation of voters, shootings near polling centers, chasing away of polling agents, assault and threats to election monitors and party supporters.

Of particular concern are reports that a number of voters both in the Sabaragamuwa and North Central Provinces were deprived of their right to vote because of the lack of appropriate identity documents. CMEV spoke to the National Organiser of the the CWC, Mr. Yogarajan who stated that out of approximate 95,000 Upcountry Tamils who are registered voters in the Sabaragamuwa Province 10% were unable to cast their vote because of this. CMEV has also received reports from its monitors and political parties of other incidents of this nature, suggesting that the overall figure in both provinces of those who were effectively disenfranchised could be high. As at the close of polls, CMEV had received reports of over 570 persons being so deprived in the areas of Dedigama, Deraniyagala, Eheliyagoda, Kegalle, Kolonna, Mawanella, Rambukkana, Ruwanwella and Yatiyantota in the Sabaragamuwa Province and Anuradhapura West, Horowapathana, Kekirawa, Medawachchiya, Polonnaruwa in the NCP.

According to a notice issued by the Election Commissioner on 16th July 2008, eight forms of identification were listed as accepted documentation for voting. A clear procedure was set out in the above notice which provides alternatives for those who lack any of the eight forms of identification.

Whilst CMEV has supported the use of national ID cards as mandatory for the purpose of voter identification, it has always maintained that this should not be implemented to the detriment of any voters. Whilst we recognize that interim measures were devised and publicized, the scale of effective disenfranchisement clearly demonstrate the need for more proactive dissemination of information amongst citizens and effective communication of these procedural requirements to the relevant government officials.

We therefore call upon the Election Commissioner to conduct an independent investigation in to what has transpired at these elections and to take all necessary steps to ensure that officials are aware of these requirements in the event that they have to be resorted to in the future. It is imperative that officials found responsible for what is clearly a violation of a fundamental right are held to account. We also strongly urge the authorities to expedite the issue of outstanding ID cards.

DR.PAIKIASOTHY SARAVANAMUTTU (CO-CONVENOR)

MR. UDAYA KALUPATHIRANA (CO-CONVENOR)

MR. UVINDU KURUKULASURIYA (CO-CONVENOR)

North Central and Sabaragamuwa Provincial Council Elections – 23rd August 2008 09.30hrs – Media Communiqué No 5

CMEV

North Central and Sabaragamuwa Provincial Council Elections

23rd August 2008 – Media Communiqué No. 5

CMEV monitors report tension on the ground in certain polling divisions in the two provinces.  Of particular concern are reports from monitors identifying government ministers engaging in voter intimidation.  CMEV condemns the involvement of Ministers in violation of the Elections law and calls upon the government to act immediately to stop this.

CMEV monitors report that the brother of UNP member Upul Bandara and a person named Roshan, have been assaulted by a group of people led by Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage. The Minister and his retinue are currently in the vicinity of the Zahira College polling station (No.33 and 34) in the Mawanela electorate, Kegalle district, threatening and intimidating UNP voters. CMEV monitors further report that they are traveling in six vehicles, none of which have license plates.

In the Balangoda electorate of Sabaragamuwa, at No. 13 Balangoda CC M.V (Tamil), it is alleged that Minister Jagath Pushpakumara and his supporters have snatched the polling cards of JVP supporters. They are also allegedly threatening voters arriving at the polling station. This was reported to CMEV by its mobile team in Balangoda.

In the Polonnaruwa electorate, at the Nuwaragala Pihitigala polling station (No. 10), the chairman of the Dehiyattiyakanda Pradeshiya Sabha and Upali Rajakaruna representative of the Dimbulagala PS have been seen travelling around the town area intimidating UNP supporters and preventing them from voting.  Mr. Henrik Appuhamy, a former UNP PS representative, reported this to CMEV.

There are a number of other major incidents, which militate against the conduct of a free and fair election.

Inability to prove identity
It was reported to CMEV that 10 persons who came to vote have been sent away by the SPO of A/ Sinhala Kakulbendidigiliya (No.2) in Horowpathana electorate of Anuradhapura district at about 9.00am, because they could not prove their identity. These persons did not even have temporary identification documents.

In the Anuradhapura West electorate, at polling station number 04 Adampanai Sudharsha M.V, four persons have been prevented from exercising their franchise as the SPO refused to recognise their identity cards.

Fraudulent Voting

One incident of fraudulent voting is reported from Polonnaruwa electorate from R.K. Indrananda, the Group Leader of JVP in Polonnaruwa. A person named K. P. Kumarasiri has allegedly voted in two Polling Stations namely, Dharma Wijayarama Polling Station (No. 33) and Girithale Junior School (No.35).

Chasing away of voters

Mr. Thushara Karunaratne of JVP reported to CMEV monitor that the supporters of Mangala Master of UPFA, armed with guns, chased away the people who came to vote at about 0630 to  Palliyagodella Muslim Junior School (No.33) in Polonnaruwa.

Opposition Polling Agents chased away from Horowpathana polling Station
At 7.40 am today, in Horowpathana, Anuradhapura district, UNP polling agents were chased away from the A/Mukkarawewa Vidyalaya Polling Station (No.06) by the Horowpathan Pradeshiya Sabha chairman, A.R.M Hussein.  The incident was reported to CMEV by UNP leader P. Saheel.

Campaigning continues in Nadola although polling has begun
Posters bearing the numbers of two UPFA candidates were spotted within 500 metres of the Nadolakanda Vidyalaya (No 71) polling station, in the Ratnapura district. The two candidates concerned are UPFA candidates Ravindra Ranaveeraarachchi and Vijitha Punchihewa.

Posters and hoardings still displayed in Ratnapura
A similar incident has been reported nearby the Seevali Counting Centre in Ratnapura town where posters and hoardings of candidates from all parties are still seen prominently displayed.

In the Minneriya Electorate of Polonnaruwa, NC Prov, near Bakamuma Mahasen Central Collage, Lionel Samarasekara of JVP complained about the display of UPFA election posters and materials continuing on Election Day.

Field reports indicate that the supporters of Mr. Imitias Cader, candidate No.05 of UPFA were travelling around the polling station Beragala Junior School in Kegalle, in a white Caravan bearing the no. 52- 1995, pasting posters, at about 7.00 am.

CMEV monitor Herath reports that there were campaign leaflets of Mr. Maheepala Herath, the UPFA Chief Minister candidate to be seen around the polling station – Elengipitiya Junior School  in Aranayake at about 7.40 am.
CMEV draws attention to the above violations of election law.  The continuation of campaigning beyond midnight, August 20th is contrary to clause 70 of the PC Elections Act no 2 of 1988.  The use of violence and the abuse of state resources is a serious threat to the integrity of the electoral process.  CMEV calls on the authorities to call a halt to this, even at this late stage in the current electoral process.

DR.PAIKIASOTHY SARAVANAMUTTU (CO-CONVENOR)

MR. UDAYA KALUPATHIRANA (CO-CONVENOR)

MR. UVINDU KURUKULASURIYA (CO-CONVENOR)

Election Day violence map and RSS feed now live!

A map plotting violence and other incidents related to the Sabaragamuwa and North Central Province Elections on 23 August 2008 is now live. Please access it directly here and access the map of violence in the lead up to this election here.

Incidents will be added throughout the day. Please check often or subscribe to the map’s RSS feed here.

North Central and Sabaragamuwa Provincial Council Elections 22nd August 2008 – Media Communiqué No 4

North Central and Sabaragamuwa Provincial Council Elections
22nd  August 2008 – Media Communiqué No 4

Prior to the commencement of polling on August 23rd, 2008, CMEV reports a tense situation prevailing in many areas in the North Central and Sabaragamuwa Provinces.

August 20, 2008
It has been alleged by the JVP that two vehicles, one belonging to the Presidential Secretariat and the other belonging to UPFA candidate Udayakantha Gunathileke, were seen carrying what seemed to be polling cards in Nelumdeniya area of the Dedigama electorate, Kegalle. Although the police had checked on this, “they have taken no action to date” said Mr. Mahinda Jayasinghe. CMEV received this complaint on the evening of August 22nd, 2008.

BREACH OF ELECTION LAWS
August 21, 2008

It was reported to the CMEV by the JVP team leader Mahinda Jayasinghe that he had complaint to Kegalle police that in the residence of Vijitha Yapa, of 72, Albert Seneviratne Mawatha in Kegalle, arms, weapons and fraudulent ballot papers were observed. It was stated that the presences of these papers were reported to the police by the JVP Kegalle District parliamentarian Anurudhdha Polgampola. The police had subsequently removed these items from the house.  It was further reported that in the areas of Rambukkana, Kegalle, Deraniyagala and Dedigama of the Sambaragamuwa Province, unofficial ballot papers have been distributed by alleged UPFA supporters. This incident also was reported to CMEV by the JVP team leader Mahinda Jayasinghe. When CMEV contacted Kegalle police regarding this incident they were informed that when the police arrived at the residence of Albert Seneviratne no such weapons and fraudulent ballot papers were found.

MISUSE OF STATE RESOURCES
August 22, 2008

It has been alleged that at about 2.00 am, 10 ballot boxes were transported to the offices of the former Chief Minister of the North Central Province and now UPFA candidate, Bertie Premalal Dissanayake. It has been alleged that he is continuing to use these premises for election campaigning. This complaint was made by UNP election candidate Major General Janaka Perera. He is reported to have also informed The Returning Officer- Anuradhapura, Deputy Election Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya and the Election Commissioner at the Election Secretariat in Rajagiriya. CMEV was unable to reach Assistant Election Commissioner Anuradhapura Saman Bandula Gunasena in order to verify this report.
In the Ruwanwella electorate, Minister of Labour Relations and Manpower Athauda Seneviratne and his son, Parakrama Athauda was seen using double cabs belonging to the Ministry for campaigning purposes. The vehicle numbers were:  GJ-5818, a red colored cab and 57- 6598, an ash colored cab.

According to the CMEV Monitor, Dushmanthya Mithrapala, a UPFA candidate for the Sabaragamuwa province was also seen using a cab belonging to the same Ministry. The number of the vehicle was WPGA- 8170. This particular vehicle was observed been used for election campaign purposes in the area of Bulathkohupitiya in the Yatiyanthota electorate.

At around 10.30 am, a vehicle belonging to UNP candidate Hasitha Samantha was alleged to have been damaged by members of the UPFA, who had arrived at the scene in two white HI-ACE vans, the two occupants of the UNP vehicle were on route to Rakwana town when their vehicle was supposed to have been blocked at Kalubangalawa. Both persons sustained minor injuries and were admitted to the Rakwana Hospital. The UPFA supporters who carried out the alleged attack were also injured and were then admitted to the Kahawatte Hospital. He was concerned about the fact that the police had taken his vehicle into custody, whereas the vehicle belonging to the governing party was released. He also claimed that shots were fired into the air during the “attack”. He further stated that hundreds of people who have not been seen before in Ratnapura district have amassed in various areas close to the town area. He fears that such unscrupulous persons may be used to intimidate citizens and impersonate voters at tomorrow’s elections.

In accordance with election regulations, the police in the Ratnapura town area were observed to be systematically tearing down any and all election related material including posters, banners and hoardings. Supporters of the JVP, meanwhile, continue to put up campaign posters even now, according to CMEV monitors. Supporters from all political parties have been seen riding around town on bicycles distributing leaflets bearing photographs and candidate numbers.  These leaflets have been dropped in front of polling stations and bus stands.

According to an eyewitness, Cyril Gamage, a Pradeshiya Sabha MP of UPFA from Kekirawa threw a burning stick at a local food outlet in the Madaatugama bazaar. This particular establishment was made out of cadjan and therefore was completely guttered in the fire. This incident occurred approximately at 1.30 this morning. The police investigation is ongoing.

The CMEV would like to draw attention the fact in the above instances that election law has been violated. Namely continuous campaigning when the campaigning period should have ceased by the 20th midnight, which is contrary to clause 70 of the PC Elections Act no 2 of 1988 and the misuse of state resources and also creates an imbalanced playing field where the governing party has access to more resources than the other political parties and independent groups.

DR.PAIKIASOTHY SARAVANAMUTTU (CO-CONVENOR)

MR. UDAYA KALUPATHIRANA (CO-CONVENOR)

MR. UVINDU KURUKULASURIYA (CO-CONVENOR)

North Central and Sabaragamuwa Provincial Council Elections – 21st August 2008 – Media Communiqué No. 3

CMEV

North Central and Sabaragamuwa Provincial Council Elections

21st August 2008 – Media Communiqué No. 3

The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence [CMEV] has commenced its monitoring of the Provincial Council Elections in the North Central and Sabaragamuwa Provinces. CMEV has deployed 28 field monitors, whilst a further 450 day observers and 12 mobile teams have been trained for the process of Election Day monitoring in the 27 polling divisions of the two provinces.

A total number of 218 incidents have been reported to the CMEV since the close of nominations on the 04/07/08 up to 20/08/08.

Total number of incidents. Click for larger image.

Total number of incidents. Click for larger image.

Of these, 104 have been classified as Major incidents and the remaining 114 have been classified as Minor incidents.

Of the total number of incidents recorded, 118 are reported from the NCP. Of these, 86 are from the Anuradhapura district and 32 are from the Polonnaruwa district. The Sabaragamuwa Province records a total number of 100 incidents 56 from the Rathnapura district and 44 from the Kegalle district.

Of the 86 incidents recorded from Anuradhapura, 37 are Major incidents and 49 are Minor incidents. Of the cumulative number of incidents recorded from Anuradhapura district, the highest number of incidents (19) has been recorded from the Kalawewa electorate.

Of the 32 incidents recorded from Polonnaruwa, 18 are Major incidents and 14 are Minor incidents). Of the cumulative number of incidents recorded from Polonnaruwa district, the highest number of incidents (19) has been recorded from the Polonnaruwa electorate.

Of the incidents recorded (56) from Ratnapura, 27 are Major incidents and 29 are Minor incidents. Of the cumulative number of incidents recorded from Ratnapura district, the highest number of incidents (13) has been recorded from the Kolonna electorate.

Of the incidents recorded (44) from the Kegalle, 22 are Major incidents and 22 are Minor incidents. Of the cumulative number of incidents recorded from the Kegalle district, the highest number of incidents (20) has been recorded from the Kegalle electorate.

Of the total number of incidents recorded so far, 115 complaints are against the UPFA, 35 complaints are against the UNP, 04 are against JVP, 1 is against National Congress, 2 are against Police and in 61 incidents, the alleged perpetrators have not been identified.

Of the 34 incidents reported from the Anuradhapura district against the UPFA, 4 are against the supporters of Berty Premalal Dissanayake. Of the 18 incidents reported from the Polonnaruwa district against the UPFA, S.M. Jayantha, Adam Lebbe Fais and D.S. Dayawanse, each has become liable for 1 incident. Of the 7 incidents reported against UNP, UNP candidate Sydney Jayaratne is identified as the alleged perpetrator in 1 incident. Of the 30 number of incidents reported from the Ratnapura district against the UPFA, 4 are against the supporters of their candidate Premalal Jayasekara, including 1 directly naming him. Likewise, there are 4 are against the supporters of Kanchana Jayaratne another UPFA candidte. Of the 11 incidents reported against the UNP, 1 complaint is against the supporters of UNP candidate, Hasitha Samantha. Of the 33 incidents reported from the Kegalle district against the UPFA, 7 are against the supporters of Maheepala Herath, 3 are against Imitias Cader and 2 are against the supporters of Saman Jayasinghe. Imitias Cader and Saman Jayasinghe are UPFA candidates.

Incidents by District. Click for larger image.

Incidents by District. Click for larger image.

In the cumulative total mentioned above, there are 3 complaints by the UPFA against the UPFA, which implies that there are internal conflicts within the Party. The UNP has also made 46 complaints against the UPFA while the JVP has made 52 complaints. Furthermore, Ruhunu Janatha Party (RJP) has made 4 complaints in addition to the 2 complaints made by the CWC. Moreover, CMEV monitors directly reported 5 complaints against the UPFA while the Police has made 1 complaint. There are 2 complaints by unidentified groups against the UPFA. Among the total number of complaints made against the UNP, there are 30 complaints by the UPFA, 4 complaints by the JVP and 1 complaint by the CWC. There were only 4 complaints against JVP. All of them were made by UPFA. In addition, there were 59 complaints in which the party of the alleged perpetrator has not been identified.

The complaints made by the 3 major political parties- UPFA, UNP, JVP, can be classified as follows:

Breakdown of complaints. Click for larger image.

Breakdown of complaints. Click for larger image.

On account of the grave nature of incidents that have occurred up to 20th August 2008 at 5.00pm, the following incidents highlighted below require the immediate attention of all parties concerned especially the Commissioner of Elections, Senior DIG, Elections and the IGP etc.

Alleged Perpertrators. Click for larger image.

Alleged Perpetrators. Click for larger image.

Use of Firearms

CMEV observes that there is a rising trend in the use of firearms. Firearms have been used in 23 incidents that were reported or 10.5% of the cumulative total. CMEV emphasizes that this is a cause for concern. In 8 incidents, firearms have allegedly been used by the UPFA and in 2 incidents by the UNP. The JVP has not been involved in any incident in which firearms have been used. In fact, there are 13 incidents in which the firearms have been allegedly used by persons whose party affiliation is not known.

Misuse of State Resources for election campaign

Of the cumulative incidents ( 218 ) recorded, there are 8 complaints regarding the flagrant misuse of State property (all the facilities including vehicles belonging to the Provincial Councils, Chief Ministers’ Offices and official residences, telephones). All complaints are against the former UPFA Chief Ministers who are standing for re- election.

Issuance of temporary Identity Cards

CMEV believes that the step taken by the Commissioner of Elections to certify identification of voters is a positive and a progressive step towards ensuring a free and fair election, since it would reduce the instances of fraudulent voting. However, this has not been a total success.

In Monarathenna of Welikanda, a person who did not like to reveal his identity stated to CMEV that, a considerable number of voters have not received their identity cards or the certified identification documents (e.g. a certified photograph )as on the date of 20th August. In this situation, some candidates have provided photographs at their own expense. In an interview with Assistant Election Commissioner, Mr. W.H.R. Udaya Kumara in the Polonnaruwa district, a programme for the issue of temporary identification documents has been implemented on the advice of the Commissioner of Elections and about 8000 people have received them. He further stated that it was conducted until 20/08/08. However, he stated that he does not have any statistics of those who did not receive identification documents.

Police Bias

CMEV strongly believes that the partisan bias of the Police in some electorates militates against the conduct of a free and fair election. This factor will be crucial particularly in the Anuradhapura district. Mr. Ruchira Weliwatte, Magistrate and District Judge of A’pura has observed that the main reason behind the increasing violence in A’ pura is the inefficiency of the Police. He has ordered DIG K.P. Pathirana NCP range and SSP H.P. Ilangasiri of the A’pura Police division to tighten the security of the city, immediately and directly supervise the operation.

Apart from A’pura district, Polonnaruwa electorate of the Polonnaruwa district, the Rambukkana and Kegalle electorates of Kegalle district may also be prone to Police malpractices, which would give rise to the fraudulent voting. The UNP and JVP have already informed the Commissioner of Elections and the IGP about this issue.

Summary of the observations- Pre- election period

CMEV emphasizes that there is a rapid increase in the election violence as a consequence of the:

The complaints made by the 3 major political parties- UPFA, UNP, JVP, can be classified as follows:

  • Infringement of the laws relating to the election campaign by the two main political parties, UNP and UPFA
  • Political bias of the Police
  • Competition within the UPFA for preferential votes in order to be appointed Chief Minister in the NCP
  • The targeting of the JVP by the UPFA in Polonnaruwa electorate of the Polnnaruwa district
  • Violent behaviour of Mr. Maheepala Herath, former CM of Sabaragamuwa particularly in  Rambukkana, Kegalle and Mawanella electorates

The presence of TMVP cadres in the Polonnaruwa district is also a cause for concern.

DR.PAIKIASOTHY SARAVANAMUTTU (CO-CONVENOR)

MR. UDAYA KALUPATHIRANA (CO-CONVENOR)

MR. UVINDU KURUKULASURIYA (CO-CONVENOR)

Download a copy of this press release in Sinhala here, in Tamil here and in English here.