Centre for Policy Alternatives on 31 July, 2009

Final Report on election related violence: Central & North Western Province

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The Centre for
Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) commenced its monitoring for the
Central and North Western Provincial Council Elections on 10th January
2009. CMEV focused its monitoring on election related malpractices,
irregularities and incidents of electoral violence in three phases:

1. Campaign
2. Polling Day
3. Post election violence

CMEV monitoring is founded on the belief that the electoral process
is the basic mechanism for choice and change in a functioning
democracy. Furthermore, political parties bear a responsibility for
protecting the integrity of the electoral process through their choice
of candidates and electoral practices. Individual candidates, likewise.
Accordingly, the integrity of the electoral process is of pivotal
importance for the legitimacy of the governance and government that it
produces. Electoral violence and malpractice and discrimination in
favor of any political party or section of the electorate will erode
public trust and confidence.

The basic modus operandi of CMEV is the deployment of monitors in
the field attached to each of the relevant Polling Divisions in a
District. They report back to the CMEV Secretariat for the further
corroboration of information pertaining to electoral violence and
malpractice. The Secretariat releases the information to the public
through the media after this further process is completed.

Overall, in the elections to the two Provincial Councils, there was
a sizeable decrease in the number and nature of incidents, especially
on Election Day. There were however, a number of incidents reported
during the campaign that adversely affected the environment for
conducting a free and fair election.

In these two elections, the highest number of complaints related to
the disenfranchisement of voters on account of the lack of proper
identification documents. This was also the case in the previous
provincial council elections- the Eastern Provincial Council Election
held on 10th May and North Central and Sabaragamuwa Provincial Council
Election held on 23rd August 2008.

CMEV consistently highlighted the issue and the importance of taking
steps to rectify it. The problem however has persisted. Other issues
identified are the misuse of public resources and biased print and
electronic media coverage – mainly by the State media. This has become
a common feature of elections held in Sri Lanka and is yet another
reinforcement of the argument constantly advanced by CMEV regarding the
urgency of the
full implementation of the 17th Amendment.

CMEV believes that the establishment of independent commissions for
the Police, the Public Service and Elections amongst others provided
for by this amendment, is necessary for the protection of the integrity
of the electoral process. The Commissioner of Elections acted
decisively in response to malpractices being confirmed at one Polling
Station. The Commissioner declared the results of No. 47 Polling
Station at P/ Nayakkarchenai Tamil Vidyalya in the Puttalam Polling
Station (Puttalam District) null and void and ordered a re-poll in that
station. CMEV welcomed the decision of the Commissioner of Elections
and reiterates that it will serve as a strong precedent and effective
deterrent against future electoral irregularities and malpractice. CMEV
deployed a special team to monitor the re-poll and recorded 12
incidents of election related violence on the day of the re poll.

Read the report in full here as a PDF.

Final Report on election related violence: Central & North Western Province