Feb 10, Colombo: Sri Lanka's election monitoring groups say the local government elections ended at 4 pm on Saturday was the most peaceful election held in the island's history.
The head of the Center for Monitoring Election Violation (CMEV), Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, made this statement at the end of the polls this evening.
"We can conclude that Election Day and the campaign period leading up to it was one of the most peaceful on record," Dr. Saravanamuttu said in a statement released after the polls.
It does not mean that there were no incidents of violence in the country, he said adding that there were a number of minor incidents across the country.
The CMEV has recorded a total of 145 incidents and 21 of them have been categorized as major incidents while 124 as minor incidents.
Of the recorded incidents, 44 complaints are against the United National Party (UNP) and 33 are against the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP).
Majority of the incidents recorded have mainly been regarding material inducements, providing transport to voters to go to polling stations, campaign material being strewn around polling stations, and the presence of candidates and supporters in the polling
CMEV has deployed approximately 2000 monitors (including stationary observers) in the field and in polling stations for the purpose of monitoring incidents of violence and malpractice on Election Day. CMEV also deployed 90 mobile teams in selected areas across the country.
The election monitor said the voter turnout was high in all districts compared to previous Local Government Elections.
The CMEV thanked the Election Commission, the police and all election officials for creating an environment that enabled a free and fair Election Day.
Meanwhile, Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) Executive Director Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon said that even though this is the biggest election in the entire history with over 52,000 candidates, generally a peaceful environment prevailed throughout the election period.
Tennakoon said that the scale and gravity of election law violations are very low compared to previous elections.
He commended the services of the Election Commission and the Police, adding that they took immediate action on incidents related to election violence and violation of election laws.
“There are many people to attend to the complaints received. Therefore, we see a marked increase in the engagement of the people as well,” he said.
CaFFE said they have deployed nearly 50,000 election observers all over the island. So far the CaFFE had received around 356 complaints related to violation of election laws.
Another election monitoring group, The People's Actions for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFERAL) has deployed about 7,000 well-trained and well-equipped volunteers as observers for the Local Government Elections.