Parliamentary Election 2010: Media Communique 1

19 March 2010, Colombo, Sri
Lanka:
CMEV is deeply concerned by the misuse of state
resources for campaigning purposes and the increased use of firearms.

Violence Profile

As of 18th March 2010, CMEV has confirmed 115 incidents of
election related violence including 75(65%) Major Incidents since the
closure of nomination on 26th February. Out of the confirmed
75 major incidents 25(33%) are instances of the misuse of public
property for electioneering. Incidents involving the use of fire arms
have risen to 18 which constitute 25% of the Major Incidents.

The 75 confirmed Major Incidents included 06 incidents of Hurt, 03
instances of Grievous Hurt, 22 Assaults resulting in injuries, 14
instances of Threat & Intimidation, 25 instances of the Misuse of
State Resources and 05 incidents of Arson.

Misuse of State Resources: CMEV has recorded 06 such
incidents from the Kurunalgala District; in three instances the
incumbent Minister of Nation Building and UPFA candidate Salinda
Dissanyake(candidate no 17) and his supporters have been accused of
misusing three double cabs(252-6010,WP HI 2766 and WP PB 2271)and a CDMA
phone(0114945974) belonging to the respective ministry.

CMEV’s repeated attempts to contact Salinda Dissanayake were not
successful.

A building constructed for the welfare of the Army soldiers in
Galgamuwa is being used as a party office of UPFA candidate, Taranath
Basnayake(candidate no 15)

CMEV contacted the Divisional Secretariat of Galgamuwa.  An officer,
who did not want to reveal his name, confirmed the incident and told
CMEV that the building is now being administered by the Galgamuwa
Village Development Society.

A building belonging to the Zonal Education Office of Nuwaraeliya is
being used in the campaign of incumbent Minister of Livestock
Development and UPFA candidate C.B.Ratnayake(candidate no 02).

CMEV contacted the Zonal Education Office of Nuwareliya on 18th March.  An officer there told CMEV on the condition of anonymity, that a
ministry sub office of Minister of Livestock Development, C.B.Ratnayake
has been run in the old building of the department.

When CMEV contacted C.B.Ratnayake, he denied the allegation.

CMEV received reports regarding the misuse of a cab (WP JL 5264)
belonging to a road construction project implemented by the Sabragamuwa
Provincial Council. It has been used for the campaigning activities of
UPFA candidate Kanaka Herath(candidate no 04).

CMEV contacted the office of the Chief Secretary of the Sabaragamuwa
Provincial Council. An officer of the Council told CMEV that the vehicle
was given to the project office by the Japan Bank for International
Cooperation (JBIC), that they have no information regarding the vehicle
and that he was not aware of the incident.

CMEV contacted Kanaka Hereth on 18th March who
categorically denied the allegation.

According to CMEV monitor a Mitsubishi Cab (52-2425) belonging to the
Mahaweli Authority has been used to transport a cutout of incumbent
minister of Agricultural Development and Agrarian Services,Maithiripala
Sirisena(candidate no 07), from Sevanapitiya to Welikanda on 18th March 2010.

Resident Project Manager of Mahaweli Authority, Polonnaruwa who did
not mention his name admitted that the vehicle belongs to the authority
and stated that he is not aware about the incident.

Increased intra -party violence: Another alarming
trend in the lead up to the election is the struggle for preferential
votes which leads to intra party clashes. Of the 91 complaints against
the UPFA 23(25%) complaints have been made by party supporters. Five
(05) instances of intra-party violence have been reported from the
Southern Province. In Sabaragamuwa, firearms have been used in 05 out of
12 Major Incidents. CMEV has recorded 03 such incidents from the
Eastern Province and 02 incidents each from the North Central and
Western Provinces. CMEV also received reports of 01 incident each from
the North Western and Central Provinces.

CMEV highlights below a recent incident of involving the use of
firearms in the Kurunagala District.

On 17th March at around 10.30 pm, supporters of UPFA
candidate R.D.Wimaladasa(candidate no 06) who arrived in a white Canter
assaulted a group of supporters of UNP candidate Nilwala
Wijesinghe(candidate no 11) when they were having dinner after a meeting
held at Nilwala’s residence located in Ridigama. Five (05) UNP
supporters sustained injuries due to the attack and were admitted to the
Kurunegala General Hospital.

CMEV Field Monitor visited the hospital on 18th March and
recorded statements from the victims. According Anuara Munasinghe, a UNP
supporter, the perpetrators assaulted them with wooden batons and when
the other UNP supporters attempted to stop the attack, the perpetrators
had fired in the air. Reportedly a bystander also sustained minor
injuries to his head due to the panic caused by gunshots.

According to CMEV Field Monitor, Ridhigama Police confirms the
incident and is carrying out further investigation in this regard.

CMEV calls upon the leaders of all political parties, especially the
ruling alliance against which the majority of allegations of election
related violence have been made, to take immediate and effective steps
to halt the violence perpetrated by their candidates and supporters
which is a clear threat to the integrity of the electoral process and
democracy in Sri Lanka.

CMEV’s experience with multiple elections is that violence
perpetrated during the campaign impacts adversely on polling by setting a
context for an ostensibly violence free election day in favour of those
who have perpetrated violence with impunity during the campaign. It is
therefore of the utmost importance for the integrity of the electoral
process that violence perpetrated during the campaign period is deterred
and the perpetrators of violence brought to account.

In this context, we reiterate the argument consistently advanced by
CMEV regarding the urgency and pivotal importance of the full
implementation of the Seventeenth Amendment.  CMEV believes that the
establishment of independent commissions for the Police, Public Service
and Elections provided for by the Amendment, is absolutely necessary for
protecting the integrity of the electoral process.

CMEV has commenced the monitoring of the Parliamentary Election and
fielded 180 Monitors. CMEV will be deploying 4,500 Stationary Observers
in polling stations and 50 Mobile Teams on Election Day.

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Download as a PDF in Sinhala and Tamil.

Centre for Policy Alternatives

The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) was formed in 1996 in the firm belief that there is an urgent need to strengthen institution- and capacity-building for good governance and conflict transformation in Sri Lanka and that non-partisan civil society groups have an important and constructive contribution to make to this process. Focusing primarily on issues of governance and conflict resolution, CPA is committed to programmes of research and advocacy through which public policy is critiqued, alternatives identified and disseminated.