23 July 2011, Colombo, Sri Lanka: The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) notes the conclusion of the second phase of the 2011 local government elections held today. The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) of which CPA is a constituent member, did not deploy monitors in the field in the present phase of the local government elections. Therefore, the information received is from reports filed from actors present in the areas where elections were conducted, as well as from the media.
The lead up to the elections was marred by violence and election day itself witnessed several incidents, including one killing. The elections for the 65 local government bodies held today were delayed due to legal challenges. CPA also notes that the Government using Emergency Regulations has postponed elections for a number of local authorities. We urge all political actors to take steps to ensure local government elections are held without further delay.
The present elections were held according to the 2010 Electoral Register unlike the polls held in March 2011 that used the 2009 register. A significant factor in this is the reduction of the number of registered voters in the Jaffna District. Another key point is the holding of local government elections in parts of the North such as in Killinochchi after more than two decades.
Available information indicates that these elections recorded a relatively high turn out at the close of polls. This in turn reflects renewed voter interest, especially when compared to the parliamentary elections of April 2010 that saw a turnout of 61.26%, one of Sri Lanka’s lowest turn outs at a general election. There were concerns about voter distrust in the electoral process, in particular over transportation problem and allegations of irregularities in the counting process. The turn out in the Northern Province in particular has been very high. For instance, the Killinochchi polling division recorded a turn out of just 7.23% at the Presidential elections held in 2010 and 12.13% at the parliamentary elections held the same year. In contrast, as reported in the media by returning officers, voter turnout at the close of polls in Killinochchi was 65%, Jaffna 46% and Mullativu 65%. Whilst these elections represent a significant step in the post-war consolidation of democracy, a number of incidents highlight concerns about enduring violence and malpractice compromising the integrity of the electoral process.
CPA was informed of several incidents where voters in areas of Karachchi and Palai divisions, in the Killinochchi District were forced to hand over their polling cards by armed actors hours before polling commenced at 7am. CPA also received reports that in some areas payments were made to some voters to hand over their polling cards. Some of these incidents were reported from Bharatipuram, Ramanathapuram, Konavil, Malayalapuram, Vattakachchi, Kalmadu, Ananvillandan and Navalnagar in the Killinochchi District.
While it is too early to comment on the outcome of the elections, an important point to note is the tactics used by candidates, political parties and others to influence and deter a free and fair election taking place in the North. Violence and violations of electoral law were also reported from other areas of the country. The killing of a UPFA supporter, Anura Wijeybandara in Anuradhapura District, reportedly in an intra-party clash on election day draws attention to continued political violence in the country.
A recurrent issue in elections held in Sri Lanka is the problem of documentation. Voters in the present election in parts of the North experienced this again. CPA was informed that an announcement was made by the Commissioner of Elections only at noon today stating that temporary identity cards issued by the Police would be accepted for polling in parts of Killinochchi and Mullaitivu Districts. While this delayed announcement may have helped some voters, CPA notes with concern the inability of the relevant officials to take steps prior to the opening of the polls to disseminate this information.
CPA urges the Commissioner of Elections and other relevant officials to take necessary measures to ensure these issues are addressed without delay in light of the statement made by the President of forthcoming Northern Provincial Elections to be held in 2012.
View this PR online here.
17th March 2011 Colombo, Sri Lanka, 6:00PM: At the end of polling, CMEV has recorded 56 election violations in the elections to the 91 local bodies it monitored. Of these 27 are major incidents and 29 are minor incidents. The major incidents included one report of murder, a grenade attack, seven incidents of assault, seven incidents of intimidation including five reports of an intimidatory presence around the polling station, the obstruction of polling agents, voters and election monitors, as well as the chasing away of voters. The alleged perpetrators identified as being responsible for major incidents of violence are the UPFA (16), UNP (2), TMVP (1) and the Police (1).
As CMEV did not monitor the election to all bodies that polled today, it is not in a position to make an overall comment on this phase of the Local Government elections. However, we note the recurrence of incidents of violence and violations of election law including as a consequence of intra-party competition both at the personal level and the level of constituent parties of the ruling alliance. We also note that as a consequence of a lacuna in the law, the Department of Elections could not provide transport to IDPs to polling centres. As a result, political parties did so especially in the Puttalam area. CMEV hopes that in the future the participation of all citizens in Sri Lanka in the electoral process will not in anyway raise questions about undue partisan influencing of their exercise of the franchise.
CMEV has received the following reports after the release of our second media communiqué:
Northern Province, Mannar District, Mannar PS, around 10.00PM
A CMEV monitor reports that a voter named Robel has been assaulted in front of the Sullukudirippu Roman Catholic Maha Vidyalaya by two policemen and four people who arrived in a white van. When CMEV contacted Mannar Police Station, Sergeant Upali claimed that they did not receive any complaints regarding the incident and further stated that the police station will inform the mobile police unit to conduct further investigations.
Southern Province, Hambanthota District, Tangalle UC
UNP parliamentarian Dilip Wedaarachchi reported to CMEV that UNP candidate Abdul Rahuman was attacked by UPFA supporters near the President’s residence Carlton. The victim received serious injuries and has been admitted to the hospital.
Western Province, Gampaha District, Wattala PS, at around 9.30am
UNP candidate Charles Ranmuthu reported to CMEV that he and his supporters were attacked by an unidentified group consisting of 25 persons who came in two vehicles (WPHH 3000, 5668) near the Nayakanda Good Shepherd Convent polling centre. The victims have not received injuries and at the time of the incident there was a policeman present. UNP candidate Ranmuthu alleged that the perpetrators are supporters of UPFA.
North Western Province, Kurunegala District, Nikaweratiya PS, from 12.00 – 1.00pm
UNP candidate R.B Ekanayaka (NO. 08) reported to CMEV that a group of UPFA supporters including the Secretary of Minister Jonston Fernando, Sunil Jayaweera, had tried to attack him with an iron rod near the Diwulagoda Maha Vidyalaya polling centre. When Mr. Ekanayake escaped on his motorbike they fired 6-8 gunshots. The perpetrators have smashed the victim’s motorbike (NWWM FB14) and his uncle’s Nissan Vehicle (301-1626 FB14). They also attacked neighbouring houses. The victim was not injured. He has complained about the incident to the SPO, but has failed to lodge a complaint with the police due to a fear of reprisals.
Southern Province, Hambantota District, Lunugamwehera PS, around 12.40PM
A CMEV monitor reports that posters of UPFA candidate Walgama Wadduge Ajith Kumara aka Chooty Malli (NO.08) have been dispersed around the Kudagammana Prathamika Vidyalaya polling centre. His supporters are involved in voter transportation in a jeep (52-8486).
Southern Province, Hambantota District, Tissamaharama PS, at around 2.45PM
CMEV monitor reports that a group of 15 UPFA supporters are stationed near the Mahasenpura Maha Vidyalaya polling centre with a list of voters’ names.
Continuous campaigning on Election Day
Southern Province, Hambantota District, Tissamaharama PS, at around 12.40PM
Leaflets of UPFA candidate Wijenayaka (NO. 04) have been dispersed near the Muthiyammagama Kanishta Vidyalaya polling center. Leaflets of UPFA candidate R.A Gayan Sadharuwan (no.08) have been distributed by his supporters in a cab (WPPP 4313). A three-wheeler pasted with stickers of UPFA candidate Wijenayaka (NO.04) has been transporting voters into the polling centre.
17th March 2011 Colombo, Sri Lanka: After the release of our first media communiqué, CMEV has received numerous reports with regard to the violation of election law and incidents of violence as well as intimidation. These incidents include murder, the obstruction of CMEV election observers, reports of voter transportation, death threats received by candidates, voter identification issues and reports of voters who were chased away from polling centres.
Sabaragamuwa Province, Kegalla district, Moradana area at Bulathkohupitiya Pradehiya Sabha. The incident occurred in the early hours of the morning. A three-wheeler transporting UPFA posters had knocked down a supporter of the UPFA who was part of another campaign group. As a result, both of these groups were involved in a fight, which led to one individual being stabbed with a knife. The victim was rushed to the Kegalle hospital and succumbed to his injuries. CMEV contacted the Bulathkohupitiya police station and S.I Samarasena informed us that the fight was not a political incident, but a ‘personal matter.’ Furthermore, we contacted Jude Rookantha Perera, a UPFA candidate, and he confirmed that he visited the area and that it was a personal fight. CMEV also contacted the Kegalle Hospital police about the incident and OIC Premachandra informed us that the body has not been released yet. In order to obtain further details, CMEV contacted an official at the hospital who told us that the body will not be released until the District Medical Officer (DMO) returns to work. The DMO is presently on leave.
Obstruction of CMEV election observers
North-Western Province, Puttalam district, Puttalam PS at around 10.45AM
Citing the Election Commissioner, SPO of the St.Andrew Maha Vidyalaya polling centre has stated to CMEV monitors that they have no authorization to provide information to CMEV.
North Central Province, Anuradhapura District, Mihintale PS, 9.00AM
The Senior Presiding Officer (SPO) of the Missaka Belgium Community Centre polling centre refused to provide information to the CMEV monitor R.Supun Seneviratne. The SPO has further stated that they are only authorized to provide information to PAFFREL.
As we highlighted in our first media communiqué, there have been many reports of voter transportation from Puttalam to Mannar. CMEV has contacted the Deputy Manager of the Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) and he stated that under the instructions of the Election Commissioner, voters are able to pay the normal bus fare to travel to Mannar. He further stated that CMEV should contact Mr. Ameen, Deputy Depot Manager of SLTB, Puttalam division for further information. However, CMEV has been unable to contact the Deputy Depot Manager in Puttalam. CMEV contacted an official attached to the Assistant Commissioner of Elections and he confirmed that the Election Commission has requested the SLTB to provide transport to voters provided that they pay the normal fare for the service.
Uva province, Moneragala District, Wellawaya PS at around 10.30AM:
CMEV monitor reports that large-scale voter transportation is taking place near the Mallaththawala Maha Vidyalaya No. 25 polling station. Details of the parties and vehicles involved in this incident are as follows:
Van (GK 3443) bearing the name and preference number of UPFA candidate Rohana (No.08)
Cab (250-5309) bearing the name and preference number of UPFA candidate Raja (No. 03)
Van (50-1108) bearing the name and preference number of UNP candidate Dilum (No.04)
Three-wheeler (JG 8815) bearing the name and preference number of UPFA candidate Srinath (No.10)
These vehicles have been moving around the polling station.
Northern Province, Mannar district, Mannar PS & Mannar UC, at around 10.00AM:
CMEV monitor reports that voters were transported along the Kurunegala-Mannar road in WPNA 3877 CTB bus (Mannar Depot), WPNA 3879 CTB bus (Kurunegala depot) and WPNA 633797 CTB bus (Kurunegala depot) by the supporters of UPFA candidate Hameen (3).
Northern Province, Mannar District, Manthai East PS area, at 12.00 NOON:
TNA supporter Amrithalingam reports that UPFA supporters are transporting voters from Palpani to Ambalpuram in eight busses and a gray colour van.
North Western Province, Puttalam District, Puttalam PS at around 9.00AM:
A three-wheeler (UR 7786) bearing the photo and preference number of UPFA candidate Nasmi (No.01) has transported voters to the Sri Visuddharama Temple polling station. CMEV monitor reports that there are two policemen on duty.
Southern Province, Hambantota district, Tissamaharama PS, at around 9.15AM:
UPFA supporters of candidate Y.K Wasantha are transporting voters into Gonagamuwa Kanishta Vidyalaya polling centre in a white van (ST 2540765).
Eastern Province, Ampara district, Navinthanpalli PS, from 9.30-9.45AM:
TNA candidate U.P Thevan (07) reports to CMEV of transportation of voters from Sorikkalmunai 01 to Sorikkalmunai 03 using a bus (60 Sri 0083) by supporters of TMVP candidate Sutharshan (NO.01).
Eastern Province, Ampara district, Samanthurai PS, from 9.50am – 10.00AM:
Voters have been transported from Samanthurai to Jamaliya Vidyalaya polling centre in a white van (61-4636) by supporters of SLMC candidate Kadar.
Eastern Province, Ampara District, Navithanveli PS, at around 10.40AM:
TNA candidate Kalaiyarasan (NO.05) complained to CMEV that TNA candidate Kularatnam (NO.09) has received death threats from TMVP Eastern Province Council member Pushparaj near the Saraswathi Vidyalaya and Thalai Mahal Vidyalaya.
Eastern Province, Ampara District, Navithanveli PS, at around 10.40AM
TNA candidate Kalaiyarasan (NO.05) complained to CMEV that TNA candidate Kularatnam (NO.09) has received death threats from TMVP Eastern Province Council member Pushparaj near the Saraswathi Vidyalaya and Thalai Mahal Vidyalaya
Uva Province, Moneragala District, Medagama PS, in the morning
A voter at the Bakinigahawela Sinhala Maha Vidyalaya polling centre reported to CMEV that the Grama Sevaka has failed to return temporary identity cards to 30 voters. These temporary IDs were handed over to the SPO during the last parliamentary election and Grama Sevaka has not received new identity cards. The Grama Sevaka has reported this to the voters yesterday. (March 16)
Uva Province, Moneragala District, Medagama PS, in the morning
A voter at the Bakinigahawela Sinhala Maha Vidyalaya Polling centre reported to CMEV that the Grama Sevaka has failed to return temporary identity cards to 30 voters. These temporary IDs were handed over to the SPO during the last parliamentary election and Grama Sevaka has not received new identity cards. The Grama Sevaka has informed about this to the voter yesterday. (March 16)
Voters chased away from polling station
Central Province, Kandy District, Gampola UC, from the beginning of voting till now
UNP Candidate Sarath Gamini Hettiarachchi (20) reports to CMEV that Muslim voters arriving at the Gampola Wickramabahu National School polling centre (50) and Yowun Senanka Puhunu Godanegilla polling centre (52) have been allegedly chased out of the polling centres by supporters of UPFA candidate, Janaka Uyanwatta (01). It is alleged that Thilak, an underworld member, is responsible for this incident. Sarath Gamini Hettiarachchi, UNP candidate (NO. 20), alleged that vehicles belonging to the Prime Minister’s security division are moving around the area and security personnel of the Prime Minister have parked their vehicle in by-lanes. According to the witness, a complaint has been lodged at the Gampola police station. When CMEV contacted the Gampola police station, the police claimed that they did not receive a complaint regarding the incident, but they have dispatched a mobile police vehicle upon receiving a fax from the Election Commissioner. A CMEV monitor reported that the SPO has confirmed that this incident took place and that they were unable to intervene. Furthermore, the Army and Police have been deployed in order to secure the area.
Central Province, Kandy District, Udapalatha PS, at around 9.15AM
Devapriya Ranatunga, UNP candidate for the Udapalatha PS, has complained to CMEV that supporters of UPFA candidate Udaya Kumara (P.No 22) who arrived in VW 3045 motorcycle have chased the voters out of the Panwilatenna Maha Vidyalaya polling centre. UPFA candidate Udaya Kumara was present at the time of the incident.
17th March 2011, 1000Hrs: Polls opened at 7.00 am today in 234 Local Authorities. The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) has received a number of reports of violence and violations relating to electoral law, including individual incidents of voters being chased away from a polling booth in Dambulla MC and an attack in Beruwela UC on the house of a candidate. CMEV is monitoring the polling through the deployment of Mobile Teams.
Transportation of voters from Puttalam to Mannar
CMEV was informed by its monitors, that voters are largely being transported to polling centres by political parties, particularly from Puttalm to Mannar. This is a violation of electoral law. CMEV contacted the Mannar Election Office and was informed by an officer in charge of transport that the Election Department has not provided transportation facilities this time and therefore political parties had stepped in to do so. He confirmed that he had received information regarding this.
Hand Grenade attack in Dimbulagala PS, Polonnaruwa
A hand grenade attack has been reported from Dimbulagala PS of Polonnaruwa District at around 3.20 am. The attack occurred inside a polling centre namely Maguldamana Vidyalaya according to the Aralaganvila Police Station. CMEV learnt that a police officer on duty had been injured during the attack and had been admitted to the Polonnaruwa Hospital. CMEV was later informed by its monitor, that this attack was allegedly carried out by a group of UPFA supporters when the police officer prevented the pasting of posters near the polling station. However, a police constable attached to the Aralagangvila Police Station informed CMEV that the poll is being conducted at the said centre as scheduled.
Tension in G.B.Senanayaka MV of Ekala PS, Gampaha
At around 08.30 am a CMEV Monitor reported that a tense situation prevailed near the G.B.Senanayaka MV polling centre due a dispute between the UNP polling agent and election officials. According to the CMEV monitor two centres have been established – one for men and another for women- in the said centre and although two UNP polling agents were allowed access to the centre only one voter list was given. Subsequently the polling agents had an argument with the SPO to provide two separate voting lists to each of the polling agents. It is also reported that police also intervened in the incident. At around 09.00 am CMEV Monitor informed that the police had the situation under control.
Voters driven away by thugs at Dambulla Rajaye Madya Maha Vidyalaya hall no.02, Dambulla MC
At around 9.00 am voters at the Dambulla Rajaye Madya Maha Vidyalaya hall no.02 polling station were beaten and chased out of the station by a group who arrived in a vehicle. A mobile police vehicle of the Dambulla police station arrived at the scene and the group fled the area. According to the people around the polling station, this group is affiliated to the UPFA. CMEV contacted the Dambulla Police who stated that a complaint had been lodged relating to the assault.
Tension and attack on UNP candidate’s house in Beruwala UC , Kalutara District at around 9.30am
UNP candidates have complained to CMEV about a tense situation around the Beruwala Urban Council arena. It is reported that UPFA supporters allegedly led by Marjan Hajiya had attacked the Mahagoda residence of UNP candidate Hasan Fasy (No. 8 ) and assaulted his family. CMEV was informed that the attackers numbered around fifteen persons, including five with pistols. When CMEV contacted the Beruwela Police Station, it was informed that 42 Air Force personnel have been dispatched to the area.
CMEV was formed in 1997 by the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), the Free Media Movement (FMM) and the Coalition against Political Violence as an independent and nonpartisan organization to monitor the incidence of election related violence. Currently, CMEV is made up of CPA, FMM and INFORM Human Rights Documentation Centre.
Download the final report on election related violence and malpractices during the Presidential Election 2010 in English here (Warning: PDF size ~120Mb).
To view the complete report online, click here or see below. Sinhala and Tamil versions of the report will be available soon.