Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka: Lesson from Bangladesh – Electoral system begs a change

By A.H.G. Ameen

Today people have lost faith in Sri Lanka’s election process due to the disruption and criminalization of the election process which is marred by threat, intimidation, use of illegal arms, black money and corruption combined with massive rigging of votes. The main motive of the political parties is to gain power by any means, fair or foul.

People must be free to exercise their franchise and choose their representatives. It is a violation of fundamental rights to prevent them from such an exercise. Most of the republics enshrine in their constitutions that people are sovereign and the so-called leaders or representatives are their servants, but in real practice the voters are pawns in the hands of musclemen and terrorists. (more…)

Sri Lanka: High rejected votes due to lack of voter education – monitors

By Ali Naafiz

Election monitoring groups which acted as observers in Saturday’s local government elections has blamed the lack of voter education for the high number of rejected votes from the once war-torn northern districts.

Mr. Rohana Hettiarachchi, Executive Director of one of the main election monitoring groups, People’s Action For Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL), told the Sunday Times that the people of the north were not aware of the voting procedure. (more…)

Sri Lanka: Disabled people can vote now

A provision had been made for a differently abled person to be accompanied by another person to assist in marking the ballot paper, the Elections Department announced yesterday.

Issuing a statement the department said that the new provision would be applicable to the forthcoming Local Government elections (2nd phase). (more…)

EU Concerned About Violence in SL

By Dianne Silva

The European Union Heads of Mission are deeply concerned by the election related violence reported in the country, according to a statement released by the delegation of the European Union to Sri Lanka and the Maldives yesterday.

“The EU Heads of Mission based in Sri Lanka are deeply concerned by the pre-electoral violence in Sri Lanka which has already caused two deaths and numerous injured. The EU believes that a peaceful environment is an essential pre-requisite for free and fair elections,” the statement said. (more…)

Sri Lanka: NEM-IHR Claims Election Process in Crisis

By Yohan Perera

The Network for Election Monitoring of Intellectuals for Human Rights (NEM-IHR) yesterday alleged that the local government election for 2011 had gone into crisis mode with the postponement of polls in a large number of local bodies. NEM-IHR Deputy Executive Upali Pannilage told a news conference yesterday, that the postponement of elections in more than 70 local bodies by the Election Commissioner was an unwise move as holding elections from time to time would result in a huge wastage of funds. He explained that  one cannot challenge an order given by the courts to postpone elections in several local bodies, but postponement of polls in more than 70 local bodies by the Polls Chief simply cannot be accepted. Besides this, the NEM-IHR said it had received 351 election incidents as of yesterday out of which there are 72 instances of illegal propaganda.

Source: The Daily Mirror – 26.02.2011

Sri Lanka: Tribulations in the Run-Up to the Local Government Elections

By Sumaiya Rizvi

The much awaited and spoken about local government elections will be held on March 17. Deputy Minister of Provincial Councils and Local Government Indika Bandaranaike stated that the elections should be held before March 31, leaving room for the Prime Minister who announced a date outside his authority. Finally the Elections Commissioner, the sole authority, announced that March 17 would be the day to hold the LGE.

Party leaders must stop candidates from abusing state resources
Executive Director of the National Peace Council Dr. Jehan Perera

The abuse of state resources is a recurring problem. It has been noted and criticized by election observers at elections in recent times. The Election Commissioner should be legally empowered to take action, such as giving direction to the Police and Government officials to take action against the miscreance and even disqualifying them from contesting. He also needs to have the personal courage that corresponds to those legal powers. After the abolishment of the 17th amendment by the government, the Elections Commissioner is at a difficult position as he has lost those powers he had under the 17th amendment, since the 17th amendment is overridden by the 18th amendment. What the Elections Commissioner can do now is to give the names of those who are abusing their powers, to the media and they should be named and shamed. But now he has to make requests to the Police to take action and inform the media of those requests he has made. He can also issue guidelines to the media to report fairly and make that known to the public. However if there is to be an actual change in the ground this should be enforced in practice. The party leaders must stop their candidates from abusing state resources. (more…)

Sri Lanka: Vote for Women, Says NGO

By Sumaiya Rizvi and Lumbini Karandana

The Women and Media collective, an NGO promoting women’s rights requested female voters at the upcoming local government election to cast at least one preference vote to a woman candidate.

A total of 25 women candidates were nominated from the main political parties for the local Government elections from five districts after some of the NGO’s for good governance and women’s representation campaigned and lobbied for them, Women and Media Collective Director Kumudini Samuel said at a ceremony held at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel. (more…)

Sri Lanka: Low Voter Turnout Predicted

Election monitors today predicted that the voter turnout at the upcoming Local Government elections will be lower than usual due to the recent floods and the peoples mistrust in the election process.

Peoples Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) Executive Director, Rohana Hettiarachchi said that the voter turn out during local government elections which is normally lower than that of the national and provincial elections, generally varies between 55%-65%. He said however that the numbers will fall further this year. (more…)

Sri Lanka: Law to Help Disabled Voters

By Kelum Bandara and Yohan Perera

The government yesterday introduced legislation in Parliament to make provision for a disabled voter to be accompanied by a person when voting at elections.

The new Bill which was presented in the House would be taken up for debate soon. The Bill provides for the accompanying person to make the ballot paper as directed by the voter concerned in the presence of the presiding officer and another member of his polling staff. (more…)

Commissions with Amendments

By Kelum Bandara

The Government has decided to activate the Independent Elections Commission along with the others by amending the ‘17th Amendment  to the Constitution’ within the next few months, authoritative sources said yesterday.

The introduction of constitutional amendments has been placed atop the Government’s agenda, to be carried out  within a short span of time. According to sources, the Government is initially intending to appoint a three-member Elections Commission on the lines of the Indian model. It is reported that Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake has been requested to hold office till the appointment of the new commission. Sources said that the next local government election would also be conducted under a new electoral system after the activation of the Elections Commission.

For this purpose, the Government will iron out shortcomings in the 17th Amendment. The recommendations of the Parliamentary Select Committee headed by Minister D. E. W. Gunasekara will be taken into consideration to incorporate constitutional changes to the 17th Amendment.



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