Aug 14, Colombo: All election monitors in Sri Lanka in unison say that Assistant Election Commissioners are frustrated and deeply concerned about the lack of action taken against violations of election laws and continuous threats received by them from candidates and their supporters.
In a joint statement to the Leaders and Secretaries of all political parties contesting the Uva PC election and the Inspector General of Police (IGP), the three election monitors - Center for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV,) Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) and People's Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) - said that the integrity of the upcoming Uva Provincial Council elections on 20th September will be gravely compromised.
The three watchdogs, referring to the incident of a ruling party parliamentarian of Badulla district and his brother threatening an Assistant Election Commissioner on the poll nominations day said a genuine and demonstrable effort by political leaders, especially from the ruling alliance is vital to uphold the integrity of the electoral process.
They said all Assistant Commissioners of Elections are frustrated and deeply concerned about violations of election laws of such nature.
UPFA Badulla District Parliamentarian Thenuka Vidanagamage, and his brother former Provincial Council member Anura Vidanagamage and another person have threatened the Assistant elections Commissioner of Kurunegala Namal Thalangama, when he attempted to stop an illegal vehicle parade.
The two politicians later surrendered to the police and the court released the suspects on bail.
The election monitors informed that most of the vehicles that were in the vehicle parade were "Defender" vehicles, the type typically used by politicians and elements attached to the security forces.
Furthermore, a number of the supporters involved are from cadre given to the politicians as their security officers from the Ministerial Security Division (MSD), they noted.
"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," the election monitors stressed.
The three election monitoring groups called on the party leaders and the IGP 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."
They also urged the IGP, in addition to providing for the security of election officials, to act decisively in respect of the misuse and abuse of public property and state resources as well as of MSD personnel and vehicles.
The election monitors noted that the appointment of unbiased and professional police officers is of particular importance in the poll areas and urged the authorities to direct the MSD officials 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," the election monitors emphasized.