Centre for Policy Alternatives on 22 January, 2010

Presidential Election 2010: Media Communique No. 18

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Read this full report as a PDF here.

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All election monitoring organizations as well as other concerned
civil society groups have voiced their grave concern over the escalation
of election related violence, the misuse of state property and the
flouting of the authority of the Election Commissioner.   The latter is
especially disturbing following the decision of the Commissioner to
withdraw the Competent Authority he appointed in respect of state media
institutions and the frustration he has repeatedly expressed over the
consistent disregard of his directives.

CMEV reiterates these concerns and highlights the adverse impact
electoral violence, abuse of state resources and violations of election
laws have on the integrity of the electoral process.  Given its mandate,
CMEV is particularly concerned with the escalation of violence in the
last week and the likelihood of more violence in the immediate lead up
to polling day and on polling day. This follows a pattern set in
previous elections in which the last week of the campaign records a
spike in the incidence of violence, which could persist into polling day
as well.

The nature and level of violence in this election can be gauged from
the following profile and comparison with the last two presidential
elections in 1999 and 2005.

In this election campaign, CMEV has of 19 January 2010 recorded a
cumulative total of 667 incidents of election related violence of which
294 incidents or 44% have been categorized as Major.  In the 1999
Presidential Election campaign the percentage figure for Major incidents
was 48 and in the 2005 election the figure was 37%.

In this election so far 95 or 32% of the Major incidents have
involved the use of firearms.  The corresponding figures for the 1999
and 2005 elections are 31% and 20% respectively.  It should be noted
that the figure for this election is higher than that for the 1999
election, which was held in wartime.

This election has recorded 05 Murders, 78 incidents of Assault and 81
of Threat and Intimidation as of 20 January 2010.  As a percentage of
the total of Major Incidents this works out to 1%, 26% and 27%
respectively.

In the 1999 election the percentage figure for Assaults was 41% of
Major Incidents and in 2005 it was 45%.  Corresponding figures for
Murders and Threat and Intimidation in the 1999 and 2005 elections are
6% and 19% in 1999 and in 2005, 2% and 10% respectively.

The district wise profile of the 294 Major incidents recorded is
as follows:

Hambantota– 27 or 9% of the total of Major incidents

Kurunegala district 25 or 8%

The Galle district follows closely behind with 19 incidents, Colombo
and Anuradhapura districts come next with 18 incidents each.

In the 1999 election, district wise the total of 712 Major incidents
broke down as follows:

Kurunegala – 97 or 13%

Colombo – 94 or 13%

Anuradhapura – 63 or 8%

District-wise corresponding figures for the181 in 2005 are as
follows:

Digamadulla – 24 or 13%

Gampaha -19 or 10%

Puttalam– 17 or 9%

Given the rise in election violence in this, Sri Lanka’s first
post-war election, CMEV calls on all concerned, especially the two main
candidates and their supporters to act immediately to ensure the
integrity of the electoral process and the credibility of this election.