Parliamentary General Election 2015: Final Communiqué Election Day

Download this communique as a PDF here. Download it in Tamil here.

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17 August 2015: CMEV deployed a total of approximately 4000 monitors in the field, in polling stations and in mobile teams in the 2015 General Election. In addition, CMEV deployed 75 mobile teams, 21 international observers and 90 observers in counting centers.

On the day of polling, 316 incidents with 109 Major Incidents and 207 Minor Incidents were recorded. Of the 109 Major Incidents CMEV documented 37 incidents against the UNP & 28 against the UPFA. One incident related to the assault of a former Provincial Council Minister by a UNP candidate in Nawalapitiya. Six incidents of threat and intimidation were also reported during polls. CMEV notes that on the day of elections, several other incidents were reported including electioneering and violations of election laws. Despite this, CMEV notes the General Election to be relatively free and fair.

CMEV estimates voter turnout to be between 70- 75%, a decrease from the high turnout of 81.52% in the Presidential Elections. Particular areas which witnessed a lower voter turnout at the General Election as opposed to the Presidential Election in January 2015 include Batticaloa, Digamadulla, Kandy, Kalutara, Gampaha, Galle, Monaragala and Kurunagala

CMEV commends the Commissioner for Elections, Mahinda Deshapriya and the Inspector General of Police, N.K Illangakoon and their officers, for both providing and sustaining an enabling environment for a free and fair election. In particular, CMEV’s monitoring of the pre-election period and Election Day highlights speedy action taken by the Police in implementing election laws. Such measures reinforced public confidence in the respective officials upholding the rule of law and in their taking the steps necessary to protect the integrity of the poll.

The lead up to the General Election created an environment to recognize and provide for the voting rights of persons with disabilities, with specific reference here to the Election Commissioner’s Circular No. De/LI/PR/03 issued in May 2015, directing officials to take specific steps to ensure that persons with disabilities are supported in the exercise of their franchise. CMEV has taken many steps to support this initiative and noted some improvements at the General Election in this regard, but urges the relevant officials to take all necessary steps to provide for the full realization of the right to franchise among persons with disabilities.

Finally, CMEV reiterates its call for independent institutions including independent commissions for elections, police and public services, underscoring the need for constitutional and legal reform to ensure the integrity of the electoral process. In this regard, CMEV calls for the full implementation of the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution and the appointment of the Constitutional Council without further delay.

Parliamentary General Election 2015: Election Day Communique 2

Download a PDF of this communique here. Download it in Tamil here.

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Whilst there have been reports of violence and malpractice, polling in this General Election has been largely peaceful and without hindrance.  The Police in particular have been vigilant in protecting the integrity of the electoral process and have arrested 50 individuals for violations of election law.

The graphic below illustrates the comparison of incidents of violence and malpractice on election day in this election with that of the last three national elections.

Comparison of 2010 and 2015 General and Presidential Election Election Day 17

At the end of polling, CMEV has recorded a total of 316 incidents. Of these, while 109 have been categorized as Major Incidents, 196 Minor Incidents have also been reported. The highest number of Major Incidents relate to the intimidatory presence of party supporters in the vicinity of polling centres. Four (4) incidents of Threat and Intimidation in the polling divisions of Pathadumbara in Kandy, Medawachchiya in Anuradhapura, Kopay in Jaffna and Eheliyagoda in Ratnapura respectively were also reported along with 01 incident of Assault from Nawalapitiya in the Kandy district.  Below is a summary of incidents.

Intimidatory Presence

CMEV has recorded 43 incidents with regard to the presence of party supporters in the vicinity of polling centres in the Northern (10), Eastern (5), North Western (5), Uva (5), Central (3) and Western (10) Provinces.

CMEV received reports of 06 incidents related to threat and intimidation.

Assault in Nawalapitiya

Mr. Anurudda Amarasena, the former Member of Pasbage Korale Pradeshiya Sabha was allegedly assaulted by UNP Candidate Mr. Ananda Aluthgamage at around 2.45 p.m. at the Nawalapitiya Central College polling centres 45 and 46 in the Nawalapitiya electorate, Kandy. The victim was admitted to Nawalapitya hospital for treatment. He has filed a complaint with the Nawalapitiya Police Station. No arrest has been made so far.

Person arrested violating election law – Colombo

The CMEV monitor present at the Sarana Muslim Sangam Building polling station 100, Colombo Central, Colombo complained to the SPO that Jathika Sama Peramuna candidate Mr. Suhairur Ameed Mohomad Sajid took a photograph of his marked ballot paper. Maligawatta Police has arrested the Mr Sajid. 

UPFA candidate Mr. Danasiri Amarathunga and supporters seen around a voting centre, Dehiwala, Colombo

At around 3.40 p.m., UPFA candidate Danasiri Amarathunga and approximately 50 of his supporters were seen around the Pamankada Sangamiththa College voting centre, near the Dehiwala-Pamankada junction.

Voter transportation in Katana, Gampaha

Voters were transported allegedly by UPFA Gampaha District Candidate Mr. Indika Anurudda’s supporters in a vehicle bearing his candidate number 21 at around 11.45 a.m. to the Vidyaloka Primary School 3 polling station.

Threat and intimidation in Katana, Gampha

Former UPFA Katana Urban Council Member, Mr. Attachchi alias Baiya and Weli Thusitha, alias Weli Suji have allegedly threatened and intimidated voters to vote in favor of the UPFA at the Bambuwala Jhon Bastian Vidyalaya polling station 4 from 10.55 am onwards.

Distributers of campaign material arrested in Kalutara

Police officers including S.I Mr. Wickramarachchi of the Kalutara East Police arrested two individuals, namely Rajantha Silva and Roshan De Silva who were distributing election material at the Nagaratnarama junction in Kalutara. The alleged perpetrators were distributing material of candidates Mr. Rajitha Senaratne and Mr. Ajith P. Perera. At the time of the arrest -approximately 9.05 a.m.- the perpetrators had been travelling in a three wheeler number plated WP/HJ 9312. A complaint was filed with the Kalutara East Police (MOIB 76/102)

Person arrested with ballot papers in possession, Mannar electorate, Vanni

It was reported to CMEV that a UNP supporter had 7 ballot papers in his possession. The police  arrested him at about 2. 30 p.m. This occurred at the Mau/Kokupridaiyan RCTM school polling station 50, Puthukudiyirrupu.

Providing transportation to voters by a candidate in Passara, Badulla

It was reported to CMEV that UPFA candidate no 6 Chamara Sampath  provided transportation facilities to voters in a vehicle plated G5 7519 to the polling stations in the Passara, Medawalagama area at around 8 30 am.

Use of invalid NIC cards in Trincomalee electorate, Trincomalee

CMEV received a complaint about the use of invalid National Identity Cards at Kandiya Arasinal Tamil mixed school (polling station 52)

Use of model ballot paper to influence voters in Muttur, Trincomalee

CMEV received a complaint about the use of a model ballot paper by supporters of UNP candidate Mr. M.S. Thoufik to instruct people to vote for him, near the Muttur Sirajnagar Muslim Vidyalaya polling stations 48 and 49.

Voter using driver’s license was not allowed to vote in Aranayaka, Kegalle

A voter by the name of Mr. D.V. Ranasinghe was not allowed to vote at the Ussapitiya Bodhiraja Vidyalaya polling station 2 using his driver’s license, as the license was declared to be cancelled. However, no such cancellation date was stated on the license.

Person pasting Bills Arrested in Kolonna Electorate, Ratnapura

It was reported to CMEV that an individual named Hewaguluwaduge Chamil Janka was arrested today at 11.00 a.m. by the Embilipitiya Police while the accused was pasting campaign bills pertaining to UPFA Candidate Mrs. Pavithra Wanniarachchi on walls in the vicinity of the Embilipitiya President’s College polling stations (Polling Station Nos. 09, 10, 11).

Distribution of Alcohol for voters at Grenvil Gardens at Maskeliya in Nuwara Eliya District by CWC supporters

It was reported to CMEV that Ceylon Worker’s Congress (CWC) supporters have distributed alcohol to voters before they voted at the Joseph Maha Vidhalaya polling station 182 and 184. The perpetrators have allegedly encouraged the villagers to vote for the CWC party and mark their preferences for CWC Candidates bearing candidate numbers 2 (Mr. Arumugam Thondaman), 9 (Mr. Siwaraj Anusha) and 10 (Mr. Siwalingam Muttu).

Disruption to election monitoring in Madawachchiya, Anuradhapura

A group disturbed CMEV polling centre day observer at the Anuradhapura Kunchuttuwa Vidyalaya polling station 30 saying ‘who are you and who gave you permission to monitor outside the polling center? You can only monitor inside the center’. The group arrived in vehicle number LA-9820 with stickers of UPFA candidate Mr. Thissa Karaliyadda pasted on it.

General Election 2015: Election Day Communiqué 01

Download this communique as a PDF here. Download it in Tamil here.

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Polling in the Parliamentary Election 2015 commenced at 7 am. According to the reports received by CMEV, as at 11.00 a.m. on 17th August 2015, polling has been steady and without hindrance in most areas of the country. CMEV, however, received some reports of incidents of violations of election laws, details of which are given below.

As at 11.00 a.m., CMEV recorded a total of 126 incidents. Of these, 30 incidents have been categorized as Major Incidents while 96 have been categorized as Minor Incidents. Nine (9) incidents relate to the presence of party supporters in the vicinity of polling stations.

One such report is of UNP supporters at Thambuttegama Thammenagama Community Centre polling station 62 at around 8.00 a.m. at Rajina Junction, Thambuthegama, Anuradhapura District influencing voters in favor of UNP candidates Mr. P. Harison and Mrs. Chadrani Bandara.

CMEV received a number of reports related to the ink used to mark fingers of voters.  There were complaints of the ink fading even before voters could cast their votes. A total seven such incidents have been recorded by CMEV from Kurunegala (Polling Stations 25, 26, 27 and 28), Mullathivu (Polling Station 13), Vavuniya (Polling Station 36) and Vanni (Polling Station 85). CMEV has informed the Election Commissioner about these complaints.

It was reported to CMEV that UPFA Vanni district candidate Mr. Udayarasa has pressured voters to vote for him. This incident occurred at the Sidambarapura Nagarosa Vidyalayam polling station73 in Vavuniya electorate, Vanni District.

A CMEV field monitor has been threatened by JVP candidate Mr. Dunuwilage Bandulasena traveling in a vehicle with the JVP symbol, in front of the Pathberiya Narada Maha Vidyalaya polling station 67, Ehaliyagoda, Rathnapura at around 7.30 a.m.

CMEV received a complaint about the lack of privacy in the polling booth – one such complaint was received about the Community Development Centre Hall polling station 31, Badulla Electorate.

CMEV also received a complaint that there was no privacy to cast votes due to the presence of SPO, K.M.G. Samaranayake at the Wattaram Thenna Urban Community Hall Polling Station 16. This incident occurred at around 8.40 a.m., Kandy.

It was reported to CMEV that the CMEV Day Observer has been asked by the SPO to refrain from his monitoring duty at the Galpottawala Thilakashrama Temple Preaching Hall polling centre 32, Ambalangoga. This has occurred at around 8.00 a.m. and the observer has happened to stay away around 25 minutes.

Additionally, there have been reports about unsolicited text messages and the distribution of campaign material in and around polling stations including:

Near the M/Prithukudiyiruppu Government Tamil mixed school polling centre 09, UNP candidate Rishad Badiurdeen’s supporters have scattered campaign material in the area from Konarpanni to Puthukudiyirrupu.

A bulk of calendars and stickers of ITAK Jaffna District candidate Mr. Sritharan have been dumped in the Holy Tamil Convent 10 polling station, Jaffna Town.

Leaflets and other election material of United National Front for Good Governance (UNFGG) Candidate Mr. R.G. Samaranayake were scattered around the Teldeniya National School polling station 35.

Campaign material (leaflets) depicting UNP candidate Mr. Ashoka Priyantha (No: 4) and UPFA candidate Mr. Dayashritha Thisera (No: 03) are scattered in the vicinity of the Thalvillagala primary school, Thalvillagala polling station – 55, Nattandiya, Puttalam.

Leaflets of UPFA candidate Mr. Chandima Weerakkodi of Akmeemana electorate are scattered about 50m away from Meegoda Sarvamithra Primary school polling station 66, Akmeemana, Galle.

Leaflets with the beetle leaf symbol and marked for UPFA candidates numbers 8 and number 9, Mr. Dumindu Dayasen Ratiyala and Mr. Duminda Dissanayake respectively at St. Joseph’es College Hall Number 1 (49) and Hall number 2 (47).

CMEV Monitoring

CMEV deployed a total of approximately 4,000 monitors in the field and in polling stations for the purpose of monitoring incidents of violence and malpractice on Election Day. Further, CMEV has deployed 75 mobile teams in selected areas across the country. Additionally, 90 observers have been placed in 18 Electoral Districts to conduct monitoring inside counting centres, while a team of 21 foreign observers has also been deployed as part of CMEV’s monitoring effort on Election Day.

Parliamentary General Election 2015: Interim Report

Download this report as a PDF here.

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Profile of Major Incidents

At the end of the campaign on August 14th, 2015, CMEV received 810 complaints of which 143 were classified as Major.  Of the latter category, Murder was recorded at 04, Hurt at 05, Grievous Hurt at 03, Assaults at 46, Threat and Intimidation at 08, Misuse of State Resources at 47, Robbery at 01, Arson at 16, Abduction at 02, Damage to Property at 10 and an incident of Bribery. In 12 incidents the use of firearms was recorded. Of the latter, the UNP was identified as the alleged perpetrator in 03 incidents, the SLMC in 01 and in the rest, the alleged perpetrator has not been identified.

Of the Major Incidents, 07 occurred in the Batticaloa Polling Division, 05 in Mannar, 05 in Jaffna and 05 in Minuwangoda.  In the incidents where the perpetrator has been identified, the UPFA has been named in 49 incidents, the UNP in 38, ITAK in 08, EPDP in 06, the SLMC in 08 and the AITC in 01.

Trends

Four (04) Murders have marred the election campaign, which has otherwise recorded incidents of violence of a relatively low scale and intensity in comparison to the past.  As shown in the graph below the percentage proportion of Major Incidents of the total of those reported throughout the campaign is 17% as opposed to 45%, 56% and 54% in the 2010 Presidential and General Election campaigns and the 2015 Presidential Election campaign, respectively.

Picture1

CMEV monitors have reported on the enabling political environment for campaigning and political discussion and about the space and freedom for action without interference on the part of the Election Commissioner and the Police. Both have acted to ensure adherence to the election laws, though there have been complaints about the lack of clarity and consistency with regard to implementation and in some cases the ad hoc nature of such.  CMEV notes too that the strict adherence to existing election laws in respect of posters, could in practice work to the disadvantage of first time candidates and those with less resources to resort to advertisements on the electronic media.  According to the Police, 790 suspects have been arrested with regard to election violence and violations of election laws. CMEV has details of 382 arrests as follows:

District No. of Arrested Persons Police Division No. of Arrested Persons
Colombo 40 Galle 33
Kaluthara 32 Matara 20
Gampaha 26 Hambantota 10
Mahanuwara 05 Monaragala 01
Matale 05 Badulla 31
Nuwaraeliya 08 Digamadulla 30
Ratnapura 18 Batticaloa 03
Kegalle 19 Trincomalee 08
Anuradapura 11 Jaffna 05
Polonnaruwa 20 Vanni 02
Kurunegala 21 Puttalam 34

*Kurunegala Police Division did not revealed information related to arrests

Parliamentary General Election 2015: Media Communiqué 08

Download this communique as a PDF here. Download in Sinhala here.

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16th August 2015 Colombo, Sri Lanka

16th August 2015 – Murder, Hiniduma Electorate, Neluwa, Galle District

It was reported to CMEV that a dead body was found at Lellwala, Neluwa area, Hiniduma electorate in the Galle District around 7.00 am on the 16th of August 2015. According to the report, the victim has been identified as Mr. Chandradasa Wickramasinghe, 63 years old, a UPFA supporter who maintained a party office in support of UPFA Gall District candidate Mr. Piyasena Gamage.

When contacted, Mr.Chandradasa’s brother Mr. Gunapala Wickramasinghe, informed CMEV that he cannot suspect anyone in this regard and further noted that the victim, a father of two did not have any enemies in his private life too.

CMEV contacted UPFA Galle District Candidate Mr. Piyasena Gamage who said that the victim was a key supporter and that he did not have any suspects at this point.

When contacted the Vice Chairman of Neluwa Pradeshiya Sabha, Mr. Piyarathna Gamage, he stated that it was difficult to comment on this incident and as to whether it is linked to the election.

However, the report further stated that a UNP party office is also located around 75 meters away from the place of the incident and it was revealed that the victim used to visit the said UNP party office regularly to play cards. When CMEV contacted Mr. Venura Gunawardane, a person at the said UNP party office, he informed CMEV that the victim Mr. Chandradasa has left around 9.30 pm on 15th August (yesterday).

A complaint has been lodged with the Neluwa Police Station, under CIB 352/13.When contacted the Neluwa Police Station, OIC Mr. Panawela (IP) informed that this incident is suspected to be the result of a personal conflict and not related to the election. However, he further stated that the magisterial investigation is underway and that a sharp tool used in this murder has been taken for further investigation to identify perpetrators.

15th August 2015 – Murder, Oddamavadi, Valachenai, Batticaloa District

An incident where Mr. Ameen, a UNP supporter has been shot dead by two unidentified persons on a motor bike at around 12.00 noon on 15th August 2015 at Savana Hajjiar Junction in Oddamavadi, Batticaloa was reported to CMEV. According to the report, the victim, Mr. Ameen, is said to be one of the main supporters of Batticaloa District UNP candidate Mr. Amir Ali.

Mr. Amir Ali, speaking to CMEV stated that this shooting can be considered as a continuation of the assault of the previous day (14th August 2015), in which UNP supporters were allegedly assaulted by SLMC supporters. Mr. Amir Ali further stated that he suspects the SLMC as the perpetrators of this murder and SLMC Batticaloa District Candidate Mr. Rialdeen in particular. CMEV has a video record of Mr. Amir Ali in relation to this allegation.

In the absence of the OIC, an officer of the Vallachenai Police Station confirmed this incident. The Police further stated that no suspect has so far been taken in to custody in this regard and that investigations are underway.

CMEV contacted Mr. Rialdeen, SLMC Candidate who categorically rejected these allegations against him and his party supporters.

Clarifications from Nimalka Fernando and Sudharshana Gunewardene

CMEV received the following from Ms Nimalka Fernando and Mr Sudharshana Gunawardene respectively, in response to the CMEV report of 7th August 2015. CMEV publishes them below:

The following is from Ms Nimalka Fernando

It is regrettable to note that a complaint has been logged in your website with my name
as Executive of INFORM (including Sudarshana’s) as violating election laws.

a) Before this complaint was keyed into your complaint list a verification should have been
made re the details. Verification was not made.
b) I am NOT an Executive of INFORM
c) I am NOT a monitor(not in any list) nor am I a member of the Election Monitoring Committee of MDL and is representing MDL  for General Election 2015 monitoring process. We have our own internal rules in MDL re these matters and regulations.

d) The complainant obviously has given you a biased report. I did participate in a meeting convened by the Jathika NGO Sammenalaya as a member of the Advisory Council appointed by the Prime Minister to explain to NGO representatives re the removal of circular issued by the MOD and assure them of `freedom of assembly and association’ as per ensured in our Constitution.
f) I have also informed the Election Commissioner I am involved in field work promoting Yahapalanaya and not to panic about me violating election laws.

The following is from Mr. Sudharshana Gunewardene

I am also writing this with regard to the report appeared in your cmev.org website. I regret that my name has been mentioned in the report without making an effort to make a clarification from me, as I have violated the election law by speaking at a meeting organized by the UNP.

I support the facts mentioned in the letter sent to you by Dr. Nimalka Fernando with regard to the nature of the meeting.

I also state that I have participated in the above mentioned meeting in my capacity as a member of the advisory committee to the National NGO secretariat appointed by the hon. Prime Minister who is also the minister of policy planning and economic affairs.

I further state that this was not a meeting organized by UNP or any other political party.

I further state that I deny the allegation that I have addressed the above mentioned meeting, let alone criticizing Mr. Mahinda Rajapakse.

Therefore, I would like to kindly request you that you make a correction to that report by stating your report was incorrect. If you still stand by on your report then I request an inquiry be held on this regard which I am willing to take part.

Thank you.