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 CMEV learns that the STF personnel were withdrawn a day prior to the election redeployed on Election Day and withdrawn once more soon after the election.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.

Uva Provincial Council Elections 2014 Election Day Communiqué No. 3

Download this report in Tamil here.

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20 September 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka: Election day saw a high number of voters in both the Badulla and  Moneragala districts. News reports quoting election officers reported voter turnout at 50% in the Badulla district and 44% in the Moneragala district at midday. In the 2009 Uva Provincial Council election, 70.03% of the registered votes were polled. Although official confirmation of the final voter turnout of today’s poll is not available at the time of writing, mid-day news reports indicate participation could be at similar levels.

The following table highlights incidents as reported by the Police on Election Day.

Screen Shot 2014-09-21 at 12.42.56 AM

 

The day was marked with 6 major incidents, which included assault, threats and intimidation. These included the use of firearms and dangerous weapons. One incident occurred within the premises of the Bandarawela police station. There were however no reported arrests at the time of writing.

It has to be noted that there were no reports of incidents of murder or grievous hurt on Election Day. However there was widespread abuse of state resources and violation of election law that occurred in the lead up to the polls and on Election Day.

CMEV was concerned about issues related to the presentation of identification documents that could impact the exercise of the franchise. As a result, CMEV responded positively to the request by the Elections Commissioner to support mobile clinics organized by the Department of Elections to issue special identity cards in the Badulla district.

Some key trends from polling day include:

  • The heavy presence of politicians across parties and their supporters from outside of the Uva Province, was evident in both the Badulla and Moneragala districts. Several serious incidents reported allegedly involved UPFA politicians and their supporters from outside the Uva province.
  • The overwhelming majority of ‘major incidents’ on polling day were reported from the Badulla District.
  • A majority of election law violations, including transporting voters to polling stations were reported from the Moneragala district.
  • All physical attacks reported to CMEV were attacks against politicians and party cadre.
  • Intimidation and pressuring of voters was used to either influence or prevent voting.
  • Illegal campaigning (graffiti/posters and other propaganda material/vehicles bearing names and/or preference numbers of candidates) was regularly seen near polling stations as well as elsewhere, despite the 13,000 police personnel deployed.
  • Voters were not allowed to cast their ballot on account of non-possession of polling cards.

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Methodology: CMEV records incidents of murder, attempted murder, assault, abduction, arson, robbery, grievous hurt and threats and intimidation and ‘major’ incidents while damage to property, threats, mischief and violation of election law are recorded as ‘minor’ incidents.

Uva Provincial Council Elections 2014 Election Day Communiqué No. 2

20 September 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka: Voting in the Uva Provincial Council election closed at 4 p.m. Further incidents reported during the polling period are detailed below.

Download this as a PDF here. Sinhala version here and Tamil version here.

On 20th September 2014 Uva Province, Badulla district, Bandarawela Polling division.  According to UNP MP Harsha De Silva a group of UNP supporters were travelling from Diyatalawa to Bandarawela when a group of people had disembarked from a white van that had blocked their path. The Coordinating Secretary of UNP Candidate Harin Fernando, Mr. Premasiri was assaulted by Southern Provincial Council Minister D.V Upul using the blunt side of a sword. Eyewitnesses also allege that the attackers fired several shots into the air.

On 20th September 2014 Uva Province, Moneragala district, Wellawaya, Athili Wewa Maha Viduhala. UPFA Moneragala election operation unit lodged a complaint with CMEV that UNP candidate Roy Kalinga contesting under the preference number 17, together with about 25 of his supporters, threatened a UPFA supporter not to cast his vote. The UPFA alleged that the Police refused to accept the complaint. However when contacted by CMEV, Wellawaya Police stated that the complaint was accepted as Complaint number 48 at 9.15 a.m

On 20th September 2014 Uva Province, Badulla district, Hali-Ela, St. James Tamil Vidyalaya Polling Station. CMEV field monitors reported voter Padmanathan Yogaratnam was assaulted with a knife, approximately 200 meters from the polling station when he arrived to cast his vote. The perpetrator – allegedly a JVP supporter according to the victim’s brother- was identified as Shanmuganathan and was allegedly involved in an altercation with the injured on the previous day. The injured was admitted to the Badulla Base Hospital. Upon inquiries from the hospital, CMEV was informed that a person with the name Pathmanathan Yogaratnam was admitted to ward 8. The hospital however refused to divulge any further information. The CMEV field monitor’s attempts to contact the hospital director for more details were unsuccessful. The Badulla base hospital police informed CMEV that this incident was a personal dispute, unrelated to election violence.  CMEV has been informed by the injured person’s brother that this is an election related incident.

On 20th September 2014 Uva Province, Badulla district, Wellassa. A hotel owned by H. A. Dushan who maintained a UNP party office opposite the Wellassa Jathika Pasala, was attacked by about 30 individuals who arrived in 5 vehicles. CMEV field monitors visited the location and were informed by witnesses that an unidentified group stormed into the hotel and assaulted 3 individuals including the aforementioned. Eye-witnesses alleged that the attackers fled the scene upon arrival of the Police.

On 20th September 2014 Uva Province, Moneragala district, Bibile, Moneragala Mariarawa Maha Viduhala Polling Station. A complaint has been lodged by the UPFA Party Office with CMEV that two UPFA representatives at the Mariarawa polling station were denied access to the premises.

On 20th September 2014 Uva Province, Badulla district, Haputalle, Pitarathmala, Bandarewela/ Junior Tamil School Polling Station. A CMEV field monitor reported that at about 2 p.m a three – wheeler -bearing registration number UP. VK 3519 depicting the preference number of Mr. Agalan Sendil Thondaman (No. 02) and UPFA election symbol, was parked 50 meters from the polling station for a significant period of time. When the CMEV field monitor made inquiries from the three -wheeler driver, he revealed that in the lead up to the election date he was paid Rs. 1000 per day by the supporters of Mr. Sendil Thondaman for displaying the sticker and Rs. 1500 was offered for today (20th of September) by the same people. The three-wheeler driver further stated that similar offers were made to many other vehicles.

On 20th September 2014 Uva Province, Moneragala district, Wellawaya, Okkampitiya Maha Vidyalaya Polling Station.  CMEV field monitors reported that campaign material was scattered outside Okkampitiya Maha Vidyalaya Polling Station (centre 26/27) depicting the number 15 and the betel leaf symbol – the preference number of Mr. Manamendra Patabedige Leelasena (photographic evidence is available) and the UPFA symbol, respectively.

On 20th September 2014 Uva Province, Moneragala district, Wellawaya, Okkampitiya Maha Vidyalaya Polling Station. CMEV field monitors reported a vehicle bearing stickers with number 9 in yellow on a blue background, parked outside the polling station with the registration plate number WP KH-3434 (photographic evidence is available).

On 20th September 2014 Uva Province, Badulla district, Hali-Ela, District Vocational Training Centre Rockhill Polling Station. CMEV field monitors reported propaganda material including preference numbers 17, 9 and 7 and the UPFA election symbol were discovered on the ground close to the polling station. The above preference numbers refer to UPFA candidates Manel Rathnayake, R. M. Nimal Rathnayake, and Arther Chamara Sampath Dasanayake Don respectively.

On 20th September 2014 Uva Province, Badulla district, Hali-Ela, Wewalginna Vidyalaya polling Station. CMEV field monitors reported a group of about 5 youths were speaking to the voters within a radius of 100 meters from the polling station telling them to vote for UPFA candidate Mr. Ajith Deshapriya contesting under the preference number 03.

On 20th September 2014 Uva Province, Moneragala district, Bibile, Bibile Nagala, Moneragala Nagala Piyarathana Kanitu Viduhala. A complaint was lodged by the UPFA Party Office with CMEV that the Senior Polling Officer has notified disabled persons that they will not be afforded the opportunity to cast their vote. The UPFA Party Office is reported to have made a complaint to the Elections Commissioner.

On 20th September 2014 Uva Province, Moneragala district, Wellawaya, Kiri-ibban Wewa Bandaranayake Secondary School.  A complaint was lodged by the UPFA Party Office with CMEV that a group of persons used a white van to transport voters to the Kiribath wewa Bandaranayake secondary school polling center, close to Kiri-ibban Ara Mawara Bridge. They further alleged that the persons in the van were waving red flags.

On 20th September 2014 Uva Province, Moneragala district, Bibile, Mada Gama, Moneragala Bibilamulla Kanitu Viduhala Polling Station. A complaint was lodged by the UPFA Party Office with the CMEV field monitor, reporting that the Senior Polling Officer did not make necessary arrangements for disabled persons to cast their vote.

On 20th September 2014 Uva Province, Moneragala district, Siyambalanduwa, Kumbukgeyaya Eksath Paropakara Samithi Shalawa, Athimale Wawe Polling Station. A Complaint was lodged by the UPFA Party Office with the CMEV that a police officer Karunamuni (63245) deployed for election duties was seen intimidating voters by informing them not to cast their vote.

Uva Provincial Council Elections 2014 Election Day Communiqué No. 1

20 September 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka: Voting in the Uva Provincial Council election commenced today, 20th September 2014. This election is the latest in the current cycle of Provincial Council elections held in four phases over two years. In total 942,730 registered voters are registered to vote at 834 polling stations in the 3 polling divisions of the Moneragala district and the 9 in the Badulla District.

Download this update in Sinhala here, and in Tamil here.

Turnout

Voting began at 7 a.m. By 1.00 p.m in the Badulla district voter turnout was recorded at 50% and in the Moneragala district at 45% by noon. During the previous Provincial Council election in 2009, the total voter turnout was 68.69% and 70.73% in the Moneragala and Badulla districts, respectively.

Incidents

  • On 20th September 2014 Uva Province, Badulla District, Passara, Gonagala Maha Vidyalaya, Gonagala Polling Station. CMEV field monitors reported that a graffiti depicting the number 18 and the betel leaf symbol had been drawn on the road in front of the polling station. It is noted that the graffiti indicated the election symbol of the UPFA and the preference number of Mr. Vadivel Suresh, who is the organizer for the Passara electorate. (Photographic evidence is available)
  • On 20th September 2014 Uva Province, Moneragala District, Moneragala, Horambuwa, Moneragala Horambuwa Kanitu Viduhala Polling Station. CMEV field monitors reported that from around 7 a.m, a bus bearing registration number ND-6622 was used to transport voters to the Horambuwa Kanitu Viduhala polling station. Furthermore the bus was used to provide transport to employees of the Moneragala Pradeshiya Sabha. CMEV field monitors report that UPFA Moneragala District candidate Shashindra Rajapaksa’s name was displayed prominently on the said bus. This narration of the incident was corroborated by an employee of the Pradeshiya Sabha, who was a passenger on the bus.
  • On 20th September 2014 Uva Province, Badulla District, Haputale, Glananor Tamil Kanishta Vidyalaya Polling Station. CMEV field monitors reported that a group of about 15 UPFA (CWC) supporters approached voters and  asked them to cast their vote according to a model ballot paper that had marked numbers 2, 11, and 12 against the UPFA election symbol. The incident is reported to have taken place within a 100 meter radius of the polling station and the group had exerted particular pressure on women voters in this regard.
  • On 20th September 2014 Uva Province, Badulla District, Mahiyanganaya, Dehigolla Maha Vidyalaya Polling Station. CMEV field monitors reported that a group of people wearing blue t-shirts were distributing refreshments to the public on a by-road located within a 500 meter radius of the Dehigolla Maha Vidyalaya polling station.
  • On 20th September 2014 Uva Province, Badulla District, Bandarawela, Bandarawela polling Division, polling Station Numbers 60 and 61. CMEV field monitors reported that two police officers turned away voters from the polling station who did not possess polling cards. Based on eyewitness accounts, CMEV field monitors estimated that by 11 a.m, almost 20 voters had been turned away.
  • On 20th September 2014 UVA Province, Badulla District, Passara, Namunukula Vidyalaya Polling Station. CMEV field monitors reported that the senior presiding officer attached to Namunukula Vidyalaya polling station was under the influence of alcohol while he was on duty. Furthermore when the CMEV field monitor approached the senior presiding officer to sign the CMEV observation form, he refused to do so. CMEV has reported this incident to the Elections Commissioner.
  • On 20th September UVA Province, Badulla District, Passara, Yuri Estate Tamil Vidyalaya Polling Station. CMEV field monitors reported that around 1.05 p.m, a group of persons approached voters who were proceeding to the polling station and pressured them to vote for UPFA candidate Mr. Vadivel Suresh (No. 18 ). This incident is reported to have taken place within a 50 meter radius of the polling station.
  • On 20th September 2014 Uva Province, Badulla District, Bandarawela, Bandarawela Police Station. Police Communique issued by the Deputy O.I.C of the Bandarawela Police stated that at 10.20 a.m, Mayor of the Bandarawela Municipal council Mr. Chaminda Wijesiri with five other supporters visited the Bandarawela Police Station to lodge a complaint regarding UNP supporters being threatened and assaulted.  At about 10.40 a.m UPFA Member of Bandarawela Pradeshiya Sabha, Mr. Heenkenda and the Deputy Minister of Trade and his supporters (who arrived a short while after Mr. Heenkenda), entered the Police Station and had an altercation with the Mayor of the Bandarawela and his supporters.
  • CMEV field monitors reported that the Mayor of Bandarawela was admitted to the Diyathalawa hospital and had reportedly suffered bruising as a result of the altercation. He has been transferred to the Badulla base hospital.

Uva Provincial Council Election 2014 – Communique 1

The Uva Provincial Council election to be held on Saturday 20th September 2014, is the last in the current cycle of Provincial Council Elections. It was dissolved by Gazette Notification 1870/64 of 11th July 2014, and following this the Commissioner of Elections, with powers vested in him under the Act of Provincial Council elections, made an amendment to the numbers of members to be elected at the district level. Accordingly the number of members to be elected from the Badulla and Monaragala districts was set at 18 and 14 respectively. Postal voting has been scheduled for the 4th – 5th September. The deadline for submission of applications for postal votes was 18th August. Notably, out of the 42,037 applications for postal voting 11,380 or 27 % have been rejected by the Elections Secretariat, because forms were not properly completed or were received at the Secretariat after the deadline. However such applicants have the opportunity to vote on the day of the Election, through Polling stations. Accordingly 30,699 government servants are eligible to cast postal votes on 4th and 5th September.

Incidents of Violation of Election Law: as at 6 pm on 2014 August 26th 

CMEV has been able to confirm 24 incidents of election related violence and malpractice out of a total of 62 complaints.  Half of these or 12 of them are major incidents.

There is a significant increase in the violations of electoral laws over the 20 days since nominations when compared with the Provincial Councils Elections of the previous years (except the Northern PC Elections).

Whilst the Police, acting on the directions of the Commissioner of Elections, have duly removed cutouts and posters, and in general worked towards ensuring free and fair elections, in areas such as Badalkumbura and Bibile in the Monaragala District, the situation is tense and should be brought to the urgent attention of the relevant authorities.

 Situation in Monaragala 

CMEV notes two points of concern in the Monaragala District – undue pressure exerted by a small handful of candidates and their unwillingness to recognize the political right of others to campaign. There are serious criticisms of the campaigning in Monaragala including the introduction of a large numbers of supporters from other areas including Colombo, and the failure of the Police to control incidents that have resulted. On the 23rd and 24th August alone, firearms were used to threaten rivals and several political party offices were damaged. The majority of those affected are opposition supporters.

Tension is heightened by an armed group loitering in the area at nighttime, as alleged by some political parties. It is also alleged that this group was responsible for the incident where a number of political party offices belonging to the UNP, JVP and DP, were damaged. A similar incident occurred on 25th August. According to JVP candidate Mr. R.M. Jayewardene, while the stage was being set up for their meeting with prior approval at the premises of the Badalkumbura Pradeshiya Sabha (PS), UPFA supporters had disrupted their preparations including removing decorations and interrupting the power supply, with the authorization of Vice Chairman of the Badalkumbura PS Mr.Kapila Samarakkody. At about 10. 30pm with the support of people brought in from other areas, in various vehicles including two Defender jeeps, the UPFA supporters had begun to physically assault the JVPers. They had also fired shots into the air with a T 56 weapon. The melee had resulted in complete damage to the stage and sound equipment. The JVP had lodged a complaint (CIB 367-216) at the Badalkumbura Police Station. In the meantime the media reported that two Police officers injured in the violence had been admitted to the Badalkumbura Hospital.

On inquires by CMEV, District Medical Officer Subuddhika Keselkotuwa stated that only one Police officer with minor injuries had been in the ward, and he had subsequently been discharged.

CMEV made inquiries from the alleged perpetrator Vice Chairman Mr. Samarakkody, who rejected all the allegations and said that two UPFA supporters had also been injured and admitted to the Monaragala Hospital. He further said he had been in a discussion with Speaker Mr. Chamal Rajapaksa, and that the latter had also lodged a complaint with the Badalkumbura Police.

When CMEV contacted the Special Police operation Unit for Elections, an officer confirmed that an incident had occurred and that both parties had complained.

CMEV also contacted the Personal Secretary of the Former Chief Minister, Shasheendra Rajapaksa, Mr. Ranjan Bandara, regarding these allegations. He confirmed there was an incident and said that according to what he had heard the JVP had first assaulted the UPFA supporters and the latter had retaliated.

Such incidents do not augur well for the campaign and for polling day. Police must take necessary action promptly.  CMEV appreciates the Commissioner of Elections writing to the IGP to take the necessary measures.

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

Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu on Joint Open Letter by the Main Election Monitoring Groups

Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu on the Joint Open Letter by the Main Election Monitoring Groups sent to leaders and Secretaries of all political parties contesting the Uva Provincial Council Election 2014 and the Inspector General of Police (IGP).

Click here for statement.

See recording of Skype call below

Listen to podcast below.

Joint Open Letter by the Main Election Monitoring Groups

To: Leaders and Secretaries of all political parties
Contesting the Uva Provincial Council Election 2014
And the Inspector General of Police (IGP)

12th August 2014

Dear Sirs,

Request to take appropriate action to prevent violations of election law and ensure the safety of election officials

As you are aware, there have been several reports of threats to election officials in provincial council elections held in the recent past. Evidence of many such incidents surfaced during the provincial council elections in the Southern, North Western and Western provinces – incidents in Homagama, Kesbewa (Western PC) Weligama, Matara (Southern) and Mahawa (North Western) being examples. In comparison with other elections conducted in the last decade, the number of such incidents is high.

The latest such incident of this nature, has been reported from the Badulla district on nomination day (06th August 2014). A former Uva PC minister (Anura Vidanagamage) and his brother, a ruling party Member of Parliament from the Badulla District (Thenuka Vidanagamage) had organized a large vehicle parade with the intention of traveling to Badulla from Mahiyanganaya. When this large group of supporters with over 150 vehicles entered the Loggal Oya area, a few police officers attempted to stop them under instructions from Mr. Chaminda Namal Thalangama, Deputy Commissioner of Elections, Kurunegala, who has been deployed to the Uva Province for special duty by the Election Commissioner. UPFA supporters threatened the Assistant Election Commissioner and the police officers, who attempted to stop them. Further they deleted all photographic images and video footage on camera, taken by the Deputy Commissioner of Elections. Due to this unprecedented incident, the election officers who had been verbally abused and threatened feared for their safety and returned to Badulla using alternative routes. A section of UPFA supporters arrived at Bandarawela through Haliela and Badulla while another section gathered in the Meegahakiula area, seriously violating election laws. There have also been reports of other incidents of violations of election laws by UPFA and UNP supporters holding vehicle parades.Our main concern however, pertains to the incident reported from the Loggal Oya area.

The Department of Elections had issued a circular (PCE/2014/UVA/4B) on July 31strequiring that political parties, government officers and law enforcement authorities ensure that processions and vehicle parades do not take place during the election period, especially during August 5th and 6th 2014.The Department had also urged politicians not to disturb students sitting the GCE (A/L) examination between August 5 and 29, 2014. Further the Department of Election has been issued a “code of ethics in terms of section 8(8) of the Parliamentary Elections Act No.1 of 1981 as amended by Act No.58 of 2009. Accordingly, it is expected that political parties and leaders of Independent Groups will make their candidates aware of the code of conduct and make suitable arrangement to ensure that they observe the said code.

As already reported, all Assistant Commissioners of Elections are frustrated and deeply concerned about violations of election laws and in particular of this nature. It is of pivotal importance to ensure their safety and provide them the necessary support to carry out their duties without fear or favour. In this respect, we note a number of special concerns, which should be given immediate attention. Firstly most of the vehicles used in that particular vehicle parade were “Defender” vehicles of the type typically used by politicians and elements attached to the security forces. Secondly a number of the supporters involved are from cadre given to the politicians as their security officers from the Ministerial Security Division (MSD). Unless immediate measures are taken to prevent this type of incident in the future and political actors commit themselves to upholding elections laws in word and deed, the integrity of the poll on 20th September will be gravely compromised.

As such, we call on you to take all measures to ensure the safety and security of election officials and to issue strict instructions to candidates to desist from any actions, which affect the holding of free and fair elections.We also urge the IGP that in addition to providing for the security of election officials, he act decisively in respect of the misuse and abuse of public property and state resources as well as of MSD personnel and vehicles. The appointment of unbiased and professional police officers is of particular importance in areas such as Mahiyanganaya. Furthermore, MSD personnel should be directed to wear their police uniforms at all times when on duty during elections.

A genuine and demonstrable effort by political leaders, especially from the ruling alliance is vital to uphold the integrity of the electoral process.

We will be releasing this letter to the media in the public interest.

Please be assured of our cooperation.

Thanking you,

Yours sincerely,

Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu – CMEV
Mr. Rohana Hettiarachchi – PAFFREL
Mr. Keerthi Tennekoon – CaFFE

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Download this PR as a PDF here. See Sinhala PDF here.

Uva Provincial Council Elections 2014: Media Communiqué No. 1

31 July 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka: The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) has commenced proceedings for monitoring the upcoming Uva Provincial Council Elections 2014.

Cooperation and assistance rendered by election officials, police, political parties, candidates, media and the public in the past has been invaluable to the exercise and we look forward to similar support in this election as well.

The CMEV secretariat is located in Colombo and incidents related to electoral violence and violations of electoral laws can be reported to the secretariat through the contact details given below.

  1. All CMEV reports and communiqués, and the violence mapping on Google Maps can be accessed online at http://cmev.wordpress.com
  2. All updates will be posted on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/cmev(or via @cmev)
  3. All updates will also be posted on our Facebook page:https://www.facebook.com/electionviolence

CMEV is planning to deploy a number of stationery observers in selected polling stations during the election day as well as 10 Mobile Teams on Election Day in the areas identified as critical.

Our contact details are:

Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV)
No 24/2, 28th Lane
Off Flower Road,
Colombo
TP: 0112565304-6 & 0115552749
Fax: 0114714460
E-mail: [email protected]

Please contact following persons for comments and information:

Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu
Co-Convenor-CMEV
0112301634 (direct)

Mr. Manjula Gajanayake
Coordinator
0115552749/0772298565

Mr. Mani Maran
Field Coordinator
0115552749/077247608

CMEV was 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 nonpartisan 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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