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PAFFREL released provincial council Election Day report
23 Sep, 2014 11:09:16
Sep 23, 2014 (LBO) – Poll monitoring group the People's Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) said there are about seven incidents of violence including three serious incidents has been reported during the day of provincial council election which took place on 20th September, 2014.
The Mayor of Bandarawela and a member of the Eastern Provincial Council were hospitalized following separate assaults the statement said. The Mayor being assaulted inside a police station and it has been reported that there was also a shooting incident which was meant to intimidate.

Apart from these the polls were non-violent and free of direct malpractice PAFFREL said.

However PAFFREL says that there was underlying tension due to the high pressure campaigning right up to the time of voting and virtually the entire political leadership of the country was physically present in the province along with large numbers of their security personnel and back-up vehicles which created an intimidating presence both to the voters and to police and government officials vested with the duty to conduct free and fair elections.

PAFFREL is of the view that these elections highlight the need to do away with the holding of provincial elections on a staggered basis and also the need for ensuring independent state institutions as was envisaged by the 17th Amendment to the Constitution.

< b>General Observation Despite the overall non-violent environment on Election Day, PAFFREL does not consider these elections to meet its criteria for a free and fair poll. Many of those vested with governmental authority and contesting the polls blatantly violated the election law.

There was large scale abuse of state property for election campaigning purposes.

Public servants were assigned, in certain cases on an organized basis, for election propaganda activities.

There was an unprecedented drought relief package given to the entire population of the Moneragala District, even to those who were not economically affected by the drought and living in its towns.

It was problematic why this particular drought relief programme was meant solely for this district though there were many other districts equally if not worse hit by the dry spell.

Although acts of violence were on a relatively low scale in terms of threat to life, the intense rivalry between political parties led to some acts of violence and many threats of violence.

Compared with the previous Western and Southern Provincial Council Elections, there is a surge in violent incidents in the run up to the Uva Election.

Especially when 19 cases were reported from the Badulla district, and 67 cases are reported from the Moneragala district.

Up to the date of elections 29 JVP offices, 19 UNP offices, 5 UPFA, 2 Democratic Party, 1 JNP and two offices run by an Independent Group were attacked. Of these 54 incidents, 50 were reported from the Moneragala District. The Democratic Party was particularly targeted. The party was denied conducting political meetings and rallies booked by after making the necessary cash payments to the local authorities.

In the run up to the Southern Provincial Council Election, the Democratic Party faced similar difficulties.

Election Department

PAFFREL appreciates the efforts made by the Elections Commissioner and his dedicated staff to fulfill the law pertaining to elections despite his powers being restricted under the 18th Amendment to the Constitution. Yet, it is a matter of concern that his instructions were not implemented in the practical context.

PAFFREL condemns the incident in which Deputy Election Commissioner Namal Talangama was threatened with death on the nomination day in Mahiyangane.

Police Department

Although the police acted in the Badulla district to curb election malpractices they were unable to do so effectively in the Moneragala district PAFFREL said.

The election related violence in the areas such as Badalkumbura, Wdlawaya and Moneragala was an impediment to a free and election.

PAFFREL has brought this to the notice of IGP, and requested him to put up roadblocks manned by police officers as a measure to strengthen security in the area and deploy armed police officers for night patrolling the statement said.

“It is unfortunate that there is no mechanism to protect police officers who are politically victimized merely because of discharging their duties impartially and dutifully,” PAFFREL said.

“We hope the IGP will act for the rights of such police officers in case they are politically victimized after the election.”

Logistical Arrangements

PAFFREL said the organization deployed 750 election monitors who observed the polls in most these areas with both mobile and stationery monitors both in the run-up to the election and on Election Day itself.

About 532 observers were deployed to monitor on the polling day.

About 342 were deployed for Badulla and the remaining 190 were monitoring Moneragala.

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