Centre for Policy Alternatives on 11 April, 2010

Statement on the day after Parliamentary Elections 2010

Categories: CMEV Reports

9 April 2010, Colombo, Sri Lanka: On Election Day CMEV recorded 84 Major Incidents, including 53
incidents of Intimidation within the vicinity of polling centers. This
figure includes 07 incidents of involving election officials, 07
incidents of Threat and Intimidation and 06 Assaults. CMEV has recorded
189 incidents of election law violations as well. When compared to the
last Presidential election, there were a higher number of incidents of
election related violence on the day of the poll.

We wish to record our deep concern about incidents in which polling
agents were evicted from polling stations, sometimes forcefully.
Furthermore, there were cases of voter obstruction and alleged attempts
to rig the results reported from Nawalapitiya and Trincomalee. We have
received numerous reports regarding voter impersonation in Puttalam,
Kathankudy, Akkraipattu and Pottuvil.

According to CMEV field reports, the failure of polling agents to
report objections relating to malpractice and irregularities, the
absence of opposition polling agents and the deliberate failure of many
SPOs to implement the law with regards to verifying the identity of
voters, greatly facilitated voter impersonation.

CMEV also wishes to express its concern about the confusion and
disarray relating to the application of indelible ink on the ring finger
of voters. There has been a clear disregard of the Election
Commissioner’s directive relating to this practice. During the first few
hours of polling, ink was applied to both the ring and the little
fingers of many voters. CMEV received such reports from all over the
country, particularly Vavuniya, Deraniyagala, Colombo, Wattala,
Puttalam, Kalawewa and Minneriya. When CMEV questioned this malpractice,
many SPOs stated that they were unaware of the Commissioner’s directive
on this matter.

CMEV notes that the Election Commissioner has suspended the counting
of ballots from 34 polling stations in Nawalapitiya, and one polling
station in the Trincomalee District. CMEV requested the Election
Commissioner to annul polling in the Nawalapitiya electorate due to
complaints received from the field about violence and irregularities.
However, as of yet the Election Commissioner has not issued a gazette
notification on his decision to annul the ballots in these polling
stations and hold a second poll in them.

CMEV has received a number of complaints regarding the transparency
of procedures followed by election officials at polling centers.
According to the complaints received, officers who issued ballot papers
to voters had marked the voters’ registration number on the counter foil
of the ballot paper. Complainants’ claimed that this practice directly
affected the secrecy of their vote. When CMEV contacted the Election
Commissioner’s department regarding this issue, CMEV was informed that
this is a normal procedure followed in polling centers and that at the
closure of the polling centre all counter foils should be sealed, to be
reopened only upon the receipt of a direct court order. The department
further added that this procedure serves to safeguard the secrecy of
voter identity.

CMEV learnt that people were suspicious and even fearful of this
procedure, believing that their ballot papers could be traced.  We urge
the Election Commissioner to keep people well informed about election
procedures, allay their doubts and fears, thereby ensuring increased and
unfettered participation of voters in any election.

On the basis of the reports received from its monitors
throughout the campaign and on Polling Day, CMEV concludes that as in
the Presidential Election, the integrity of the electoral process has
been undermined by violence and malpractice and strongly urges all
actors to treat this seriously and take effective action to protect and
strengthen the integrity of the process.  We also conclude that despite
this, the overall result does reflect the will of the electorate.  CMEV
also wishes to underscore the point that election monitors are not
allowed to observe the counting of votes.

Post-Election Violence

CMEV is concerned about post-election violence. CMEV highlights the
importance of the immediate post-election period, and calls upon party
leaders to demonstrate their commitment and respect for the rule of law
by deterring post-election lawlessness among their party supporters, and
political vengeance against opponents.

CMEV continues to receive reports relating to incidents of
post-election violence. A CMEV stationary monitor was assaulted by an
unknown group and his observation forms snatched in Nawalapitiya,
yesterday (April 8th), at around 1930 hours.

Today (April 9th) CMEV received reports detailing a clash
between supporters of UPFA candidate C.B.Ratnayake (candidate no. 02)
and Saliya Bandara Dissanayke, Chairman of the Central Provincial
Council, in Ragala, Brookside, at around 1715 hours.

CMEV learnt that Saliya campaigned in support of UPFA candidate
Naveen Dissanayake (candidate no. 04), and that H.M.Dharmapala, a
supporter of Ratnayake, received a gunshot wound to the hip. This injury
was allegedly inflicted by Saliya. Dharmapala has since been admitted
to the District Hospital. Ralgala Police Station confirmed this

Today CMEV also received reports regarding another shooting in
Millawana, Matale at around 1700 hours, allegedly committed by Naradha
Millawana, a UPFA member of Pallepola Pradeshiya Sabha. L.D.Nandasiri, a
former member of Galewala Pradeshiya Sabha, was grievously wounded in
his right eye and was admitted to the Matale General Hospital. He has
subsequently been transported to the Kandy General Hospital.

CMEV also received reports regarding a clash between supporters of
UPFA candidates Pavithra Wanniarachchi (candidate no. 02) and John
Senaviratne (candidate no. 09) near the residence of Pavithra, located
in Rilhena, Pelmadulla at around 1800 hours today. When contacted,
Kahawatha Police informed CMEV that a tense situation had arisen when
the two groups confronted each other, but that both groups had dispersed
before the situation worsened. CMEV learnt that the alleged perpetrator
was a supporter of UPFA candidate Lakshman Wasantha Perera (candidate
no. 01).

CMEV is concerned about the increased intra party violence during the
campaign and in the post-election period, and reiterates its call to
political parties, in particular the ruling party alliance, to refrain
from violence.