Sri Lankan Presidential Elections 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. (more…)

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.


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. (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. (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. (more…)

Foreign Observers react to allegations of fraud

By Sumaiya Rizvi

Foreign observer and Mission Director of the Asian Network for Free Election (ANFREL), Ichal Supriady said yesterday the Elections Commissioner should investigate and call for a voter registration audit if the local monitors allege fraud in the counting of votes and disfranchisement of voters.

“We expect the Election Commissioner to announce and clarify allegations of fraud,” Supriady said. If there are suspicions of malpractice in the counting process then the political parties should reach a consensus to recount or the option of re election, Supriady said. The common opposition candidate is entitled to make complains and the Elections Commissioner should look into them, he added. (more…)

Annul Kathariya Vidyalaya Polling: CMEV

By  Yohan Perera

The Cenre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) yesterday called on the Commissioner of Elections Dayananda Dissanayake to annul the poll in the Kathariya Vidyalaya polling station in Digamadulla where rigging was reported.

The report put out by CMEV last night said that two people had come on a motor bike and distributed ballot papers among the people who were entering the polling station. It was reported that a woman had voted twice at this polling station

The pasting of posters was reported from the Monaragala District in the Monaragala Electorate at 1.25pm — an Uva Provincial Council minister and his supporters were alleged to have pasted a poster of the UPFA candidate.

There were also reports from Batticaloa, District of assaults on several people:  an SLMC supporter had been assaulted and a shop owner threatened with death for supporting common Opposition candidate Sarath Fonseka.

CMEV also said some of their monitors had been threatened and prevented from carrying out their duties at the Damana Maha Vidyalaya in Digamdulla District.

It was also reported that a man dressed in robes was canvassing and influencing the voters to vote for the ruling party candidate at the Damana Mahavidyalaya.

Source: Daily Mirror – 27.01.2010

Low Voter Turnout in Jaffna Peninsula

By Kelum Bandara

The percentage of voter turnout in the North, particularly in the Jaffna Peninsula, was as low as 20 percent according to election monitors. However, Jaffna district politicians said the percentage should be 40-45 percent if it is based upon the actual number of voters living in the district.

Suresh Premachandran MP TNA told Daily Mirror last night that, though there were over 700,000 voters registered in the Jaffna district, more than 200,000 of them had  left the country now, around 100,000 now live in Kilinochchi. Only around 400,000 voters live in the Jaffna district now. Of these I believe 40-45 percent have voted. We should not calculate the percentage polled on the basis of the total number of registered voters in the district,” he said.

Meanwhile, TNA leader R. Sampanthan said that several explosions had taken place in the Jaffna district and this had affected the voter turnout. Mr. Sampanthan said that he had requested the Elections Commissioner to ensure a peaceful atmosphere in Jaffna so that the voters could exercise their franchise without fear. He said the bomb blasts had adversely impacted on the voters.

“I geard about these bomb blasts at around 9.00 am., I sent a fax message to the Commissioner regarding this by around 10.30 am. It is up to the Commissioner to make a decision,” he said.

Mr. Sampanthan said that no transport facilities were provided for voters in the Vanni and Kilinochchi to get to the polling stations despite the initial arrangements made for such. (more…)

Joint Civil Society Statement on Election Violence

With the race for the presidency getting increasingly close and uncertain, there has been a considerable increase in tension throughout the country.  This gives rise to the danger that there can be obstructions to the exercise of the franchise on the day of election which needs to be effectively countered as the electoral process is the main source of legitimacy in a democracy. Election monitoring and media organizations have been reporting a sharp increase in election-related violence including several killings accompanied by a flagrant disregard of election laws including abuse of state resources.

The violation of election laws and the practice of violence at election time are not new phenomena and have taken place in previous elections under previous governments as well.  However, on this occasion our concern is greater as the Election Commissioner himself has publicly bemoaned his helplessness and has threatened to give up his duties as his orders are being disregarded. (more…)


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