Pakistani and Indian Intellectuals Call for Talks Between the Two Countries

Participants at an intellectual dialogue between India and Pakistan, organized by the South Asian Free Media Association, called on their countries to show restraint on the border, and to hold talks. Due to heightened tension between the two countries, only 12 Indian delegates were able to make the journey to Islamabad, out of the 45 plus invited.

SAFMA Secretary General Imtiaz Alam said a strong Pakistan would augur well for India, which should strengthen Pakistan’s democratically elected government by shunning the jingoism spread by certain parties for their political exigency and by the media for their commercial interests. He urged the prime ministers of both countries to restart the dialogue process.

Baraj Mohan, an Indian newspaper and television journalist, said both India and Pakistan were ignoring basic issues of their people.

Economist Pervez Tahir said India and Pakistan needed to show flexibility and open trade building upon the complementarities the two countries had.

Columnist Kamran Shafi lamented that India and Pakistan, two nuclear powers, lack basic infrastructure and stressed that peace is the only way forward.

Indian journalist Jasdeep Singh Malhotra called for efforts to remove misconceptions in people on both sides of the border about each other through information and people exchanges.

Noted journalist and Human Rights Commission of Pakistan Secretary-General I. A. Rehman said both the countries were celebrating their independence on August 14 and 15 as 40 per cent of their peoples were living below poverty line. The countries that had got freedom after India and Pakistan had progressed much more, giving respect and prosperity to their peoples. He said both countries recently talked of easing visa regime but it had become more difficult than ever.

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India – Pakistan: “And as things have been, things remain. If hopes were dupes, fears may be liars”

By B. Raman

If the forward momentum imparted to the India-Pakistan re-engagement process by Prime Ministers Dr. Manmohan Singh and Mr. Yousef Raza Gilani during their wide-ranging conversations at Mohali on March 30,2011, is not to be stalled once again, it is important for the intelligence agencies of the two countries responsible for counter-intelligence (CI)  to re-examine their ground rules for CI operations in order to avoid tit-for-tat operations of the kind reported from Chandigarh and Islamabad even as the two Prime Ministers were holding their “conversations not amounting to talks”. If the intelligence reflexes in the two countries continue to be as before, they could assume an uncontrollable course, ultimately resulting in the dissipation of the feel good atmosphere generated by the two Prime Ministers. Read more »

Lanka Needs Independent Polls Commission

Int’l monitoring body says it should have powers to even ban parties or disqualify candidates

By Kelum Bandara

International election monitors stressed yesterday that Sri Lanka should have a proactive and strong Independent Election Commission even with powers to ban political parties and disqualify candidates unless they adhered to lawful election practices.

Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL) Executive Director Ms. Somsri Han-Anuntasuk told the Daily Mirror in an interview last evening that  an Election Commission should not be afraid of powerful political parties and candidates when implementing the law. Read more »

Doubtful if General Election Could Be Considered Free and Fair : PPPR

The Program for Protection of Public Resources (PPPR) conducted by the Sri Lanka chapter of Transparency International said yesterday that it had received 200 complaints on the abuse of public resources during the General Election campaign.

The complaints received related to the abuse of government funds, vehicles and buses, buildings and utilities, media institutions and public officials for electioneering. The PPPR had also recorded a sudden increase of complaints which highlighted the increased level of abuse of public resources as the date of election neared. Read more »

Election Chief Directs IGP to Remove Posters

By Srinath Prasanna Jayasuriya

Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake has directed Police Chief Mahinda Balasuriya to ensure that all the illegal election posters, banners and cutouts are removed latest by tomorrow.

A spokesman from Police Head Quarters said that action had already been taken to remove such propaganda posters, banners and cutouts, as stipulated by the Commissioner of Elections.

He, said that the task needed more hands and according to the arrangements made,  a Head Quarters Police Station shall employ four workers each while an ordinary Police Station shall employ three workers and two workers for other Police Stations.

Meanwhile the UNP yesterday brought the attention of Elections Commissioner to the unlawful display of posters and cut-outs by UPFA candidates at public places.

UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake, in a letter to the Commissioner, said that though the Elections Secretariat had allocated a large sum of money to remove such posters, little or nothing had been done yet.

Mr. Attanayake said that the situation had affected the process of conducting a free and fair election.

Besides, the General Secretary had also said in his letter how the State media was biased even during this election period.

He noted that the state media institutions continue to slander the opposition without giving them a right of to reply.

Source: Daily Mirror – 02.03.2010

FR Violation Petition Filed Seeking Voting Rights for IDPs

By S.S. Selvanayagam

A Fundamental Rights violation petition was filed before the Supreme Court alleging authorities had failed to ensure the right of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) living in the Northern and Eastern Provinces to participate as citizens of Sri Lanka in the democratic process of exercising their votes.

The Centre for Policy Alternatives and its Executive Director Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu in a petition filed through Attorney-at-Law Mohan  Balendra cited Commissioner of Elections Dayananda Dissanayake, District Secretaries of Jaffna, Mullaitivu, Vavuniyia and Kilinochchi –K. Ganesh, Emelda Sukumar, P.S.M. Charles and Rupavathi Ketheeswaran– respectively as well as the Attorney General as respondents.

The petition was filed in light of a grave and adverse denial of the due enjoyment of fundamental rights and freedoms that all Sri Lankans regardless of ethnic, religious or geographical classification are entitled to, which were sought to be denied to a section of Sri Lankan society effectively on the basis of their ethnicity and place of origin. Read more »

AG’s Approval Needed to Charge Polls Violators: Police

By Sandun A. Jayasekera

The Police Department yesterday said it was not in a position to frame charges against violators of the election law without the Attorney General’s advice and that was the reason cases have not been filed against most violators of the elections law.

“We refer the files to the AG’s Department and are waiting for instructions,” Police media spokesman Preshantha Jayakody said.

Commenting on the pasting of posters in every nook and corner, putting up  banners, floats and cut-outs, he said it is up to the Police Department to remove them but financial and human resource constraints have hampered the action to be taken.

Asked about the reported allocation of Rs. 25 million for the task for the Police Department by the Elections Department, Mr. Jayakody said the money had not been received so far. “We act on the instructions of the Elections Commissioner to remove illegal banners and cut-outs. The instructions must come with the necessary funds,” he said.

Mr. Jayakody said only one complaint of election related violence had been received by the Police Election Desk by yesterday.

Source: Daily Mirror – 25.02.2010

No Election Posters, Cutouts in Govt Officers

Election Commissioner says

By Ranjan Kasturi

Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake has directed all District Secretaries to take immediate action to remove election posters, banners and cutouts in government office premises.

The Elections Commissioner has made the directive through a circular issued to the District Secretaries. He had asked them to ensure that no government premises including schools, pradeshiya sabha office premises, CTB depots, hospitals, government corporations and statutory boards, should have any posters, banners and cutouts of political parties. He had said that if there are such material steps have to be taken to remove them.

The Elections Commissioner has also ordered all the Commissioners and the Secretaries to ensure that all the Provincial Council premises are free of political propaganda material. He had directed to remove political propaganda material from their premises before February 26.

The circular has specified that even the display material exhibited with permission after payment of fees shall not be allowed during the election time and the police have been notified to provide necessary protection in removing such material.


Polls Chief Issues Tough Guidelines

Special attention to Chairmen of SLBC and Rupavahini

By Kelum Bandara

Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake, while issuing guidelines for the media to be observed in regard to the upcoming general election, has drawn special attention of the Chairmen of the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation and the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation to the Provisions in Article 104(B) of the Constitution.

The Commissioner has set these guidelines in terms of this Article of the Constitution.

In his guidelines, the Commissioner has requested that a period of silence be observed from midnight on April 5 till the announcement of the election results. This is to enable voters to weigh the pros and cons of policies outlined by the parties in the fray and contestants, and decide how to cast their ballots. Read more »

Recruitment to State Sector Suspended

Until the completion of the General Elections

The Elections Department has issued a circular suspending the recruitment of state sector employees until the completion of the General Elections in April, Department sources told Daily Mirror Online.

The sources said that the circular informed the government sector not to conduct the recruitment examinations for the state sector. No new recruitments are to take place in government institutions or departments until the completion of the General Elections in April.

Meanwhile, a special meeting is to be held today at the Elections Secretariat in Colombo, with the participation of Divisional Secretaries, Deputy Elections Commissioners, Assistant Commissioners and Returning Officers, to discuss the forthcoming elections that are scheduled to be held on April 8.

Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake will chair the meeting.

It is learnt that special instructions are to be given to these officers regarding the elections.

Source: Daily Mirror – 16.02.2010

General Fonseka Challenges His Arrest

By S.S.Selvanayagam

A fundamental rights violation petition challenging the alleged arbitrary arrest and detention of Gen. Sarath Fonseka, the Common Opposition Candidate in the recently held Presidential elections, was filed before the Supreme Court yesterday.

His wife Mrs Anoma Fonseka and New Democratic Front Secretary Ms. Shamila Perera filed the petition for and on behalf of Gen. Fonseka.

Army Commander Lt. Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya, Officer in Charge of Colombo Security Maj. Gen. Sumith Manawadu, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Head of the Military Police Military Provost-Marshal Brig. Wijesiri and the Attorney General were cited as respondents.

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General Fonseka Arrested

Former army Chief and opposition Presidential candidate General Sarath Fonseka and his media secretary Senaka de Silva were arrested by the military police a short while ago, opposition Member of Parliament Mano Ganeshan told Daily Mirror online.

Military spokesman Major Prasad Samarasingha confirmed that the General has been arrested from his Colombo office for committing military offences.

Meanwhile the memory chips of the cameras of the Daily Mirror photographer and an AFP journalist covering the arrest of the General were confiscated by the military who had surrounded the General’s office.

Source: Daliy Mirror – 09.02.2010

Special Identity Cards: Charles Accuses Elections Commissioner

By Kelum Bandara

Vavuniya District Secretary Mrs. P.S.M. Charles yesterday found fault with the Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake for not approving the special identity card issued for the displaced as a valid document for voting, right till the day of polling.

Mrs. Charles told the Daily Mirror that she, shortly after the declaration of the Presidential Election, requested the Commissioner to accept this as a valid ID card for the displaced civilians to cast their ballots.

“However, the Commissioner did not accept it initially. Only on the day of polling, he announced that he would accept it. I got the message around 10.30am on the day. Then, it was too late for me to educate the voters in this regard. Now, various political elements criticize me for not arranging adequate facilities for the displaced to vote,” the District Secretary said. Read more »

Counting Irregularities Galore at Presidential Polls: CAFFE

By Yohan Perera

Charging that party representatives at some counting centres had not received copies of the result of the recently concluded presidential election, Campaign for Free and Fair Election (CAFFÉ) yesterday called on Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake to send copies to them of the total votes polled at these centres as soon as possible.

CAFFÉ Spokesman Keerthi Tennekoon said he had written to the polls chief asking him to send him copies of the result sheets. In the letter Mr. Tennekoon reminded the polls chief that carbon copies of results sheets are usually given to political party representatives while one is sent to the polls chief and another copy is filed thereafter. The CAFFÉ spokesman said this process has not been followed in some counting stations. Read more »

EC regrets disregard of media guidelines

Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake making a statement prior to announcing the final results of the presidential election  noted  the conduct of the state media even in the face of guidelines issued by him, but commended IGP Mahinda Balasuriya for taking necessary steps when  matters were pointed out.

“It has to be stated with much reluctance that the co-operation received from some of the candidates and their supporters in ensuring a peaceful, free and fair election during the two months period of the election campaign was much less than desired.

It became necessary to issue directives and guidelines to prevent misuse of State resources and the State media. A Competent Authority had to be appointed to ensure observation of the guidelines by the media. The lack of positive response shown to the directives and guidelines is regretted. This attitude was the subject of much criticism and amusement of both the civil society and rival parties,” he said. Read more »

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