Archive for the ‘Press Report’ Category
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.
Download this as a printer-friendly PDF here.
31 January 2010: Summary of post-election violence incidents received to CMEV by 4.30 pm.
Read this communique in full as a PDF here.
On 25th January 2009, the eve of Election Day, CMEV received the following complaints as of 11.45 pm.
Rathnapura District, Rathnapura Electorate
Type of Violation: Election Offence
According to a fax received from the Common Candidate Media Unit, several ballot boxes were found at the UPFA main office, located at Bandaranayake Mawatha in Rathnapura. It was alleged that a large group of UPFA politicians were stuffing these boxes with fraudulent ballot papers. The fax was also copied to the Assistant Election Commissioner.
When contacted, Senior Assistant Election Commissioner Rathnapura Mr. M.A.P.G Perrera told CMEV that he visited the location with two Police Officers and a representative of the District Elections Commissioners Office at approximately 10.00 a.m. He stated that a large group of politicians were not at the location as alleged, and there were also no ballot boxes found following a thorough search of the premises. He added that the only unlawful material found at the location were a few specimen ballot papers, and said that he asked persons in the party office to destroy them immediately. He also said that he first received information regarding the incident from UNP Member of Parliament Ms. Thalatha Athukorala, and as such he had asked her to come and meet him if she wished to see the material that was at the UPFA office, as he had brought back a specimen ballot paper with him.
Rathnapura District, Eheliyagoda Electorate
Type of Violation: Election Offence
According to UNP supporter Mr. Upul Priyantha, between approximately 10.00 am and 4.00 pm today, a special Samurdhi payment of Rs. 3,600 was distributed amongst Samurdhi recipients of the Ellawela GN Division. A promotional leaflet requesting persons to vote for the incumbent President was also distributed along with this payment. According to Mr. Priyantha, the payment as well as leaflet was distributed by Samurdhi Naiyamaka for Ellawela Mrs. Vinitha Nandani.
When contacted, Mrs. Nandani told CMEV that the payment was made under a Samurdhi Assistance Program, and a leaflet regarding the program was distributed amongst the recipients, and not a promotional leaflet of the President. She added that it was not a special payment, but the regular Samurdhi assistance payment. When asked if she had a copy of the leaflet, she said that she did, and abruptly hung up on CMEV. She did not answer subsequent calls. CMEV has received copies of leaflets that were allegedly distributed. They are very clearly promotional material for the incumbent President, bearing his campaign slogan, party symbol and cross.
When contacted, the Eheliyagoda Police PC Premalal told CMEV that they knew nothing of the incident.
Polonnaruwa District, Polonnaruwa Electorate
Type of Violation: Threat and Intimidation
According to UNP supporter Mr. H.M. Senevirathne, at 11.30pm on the 24th of January and at 2.00am on the 25th of January UPFA Dimbulagala Pradeshiya Sabha chairman Dhammika Nishantha Kumara and approximately 15 others who arrived in a vehicle, allegedly attacked the home of UNP supporter Mr. G. Abeywardena in 87 Nidhanwala, Daminna with stones, causing damage to the windows of the house.
Kurunegela District, Hiriyala Electorate
The Gokarella Police confirmed that they had taken into custody 23 persons who were traveling by a private bus. OIC Vitharana stated to CMEV that the Police are investigating an allegation that this group was carrying arms. He was unwilling to provide CMEV with any information as to who had made the complaint. OIC Vitharana stated that those in custody claimed that they were Sarath Fonseka supporters and that some were on their way to an almsgiving and others to a pooja. At 11.45 pm he added that they had been transferred to the Kurungela Police Station and will be questioned by the Crimes Branch.
Sub Inspector Ranga attached to Minister and UPFA Organiser Salinda Dissanayke alleged that these persons are retired and serving military personnel and deserters. The lawyer for the UNP in the district Felician Perera informed CMEV that an arrest had been made and that he was in the process of obtaining more information about the arrest. Police spokesperson I.M. Karunaratne stated that 20 persons were taken into custody at around 7.45 pm by the Gokarella Police on suspicion of carrying illegal weapons. He also claimed that there are deserters and retired army personnel in the group, but no serving officers.
Read the full report as a PDF here.
Bomb Attack in Colombo
At approximately 4.50am this morning, an explosive device was thrown at the home of the Secretary and National Organizer of the SLFP Mahajana Wing Mr. Tiran Alles, located at Galpoththa Road, Nawala, resulting in severe damage to his vehicle and house. Mr. Alles and his family were unharmed.
According to the OIC Welikada Police CI Neville de Silva a complaint has been lodged in this regard bearing the number EIB/07/25. SSP Mirihana Division Deshabandu Tennekoon, the nature of the explosive has not yet been confirmed, and the forensic report is pending. It has therefore been identified as an explosive device. The Kotte Municipal Council Fire Brigade said that two fire engines were deployed to contain the fire.
When contacted, Mr. Alles told CMEV that at approximately 4.50 am, his Security Officer Mr. Nalaka Liyanage had heard the sound of a vehicle outside the gate and had seen something being thrown over the wall, subsequent to which there was a large explosion. Mr. Alles added that he suspects President Rajapaksa and Chairman of the JNP Mr. Wimal Weerawanse of being behind the attack.
This attack comes in the wake of statements to the media yesterday (21st) by Leader of the SLFP Mahajana Wing and Member of Parliament Mr. Mangala Samaraweera, alleging a plot by the Rajapaksa regime to assassinate Mr. Alles.
Attempted Murder and Assault in Matara
According to Southern Provincial Councilor Mr. Gayan Sanjeewa (UNP), at 1.45am the vehicle (64-209) in which Mr. Sanjeewa was traveling in, was shot at by a group of unidentified persons who arrived in 3 vehicles (white car, white van, black double cab), resulting in damages to the vehicle. The attackers had initially shot at the vehicle from behind, while Mr. Sanjeewa was in the back seat, and subsequently shot twice at the rear right door of the vehicle. Mr. Sanjeewa told CMEV that he firmly believed that it was an attack on his life, but Mr. Sanjeewa was not injured in the incident.
However, as Mr. Sanjeewa’s vehicle sped forward in order to escape the attack the assailants had subsequently assaulted a supporter Mr. Muditha Gayashan who was not traveling in a vehicle, resulting in Mr. Gayashan suffering bruising. Mr. Gayashan is currently receiving treatment in ward 3 of the Matara Hospital. Mr. Sanjeewa and his supporters were in the process of decorating the road leading from Kamburugamuwa to Matara with campaign material when the attack took place.
When contacted, Official of the Elections Branch Matara Police SI Chaminda told CMEV that the vehicle had 3 bullet holes and the weapon used was a T-56. He added that as the attackers’ vehicle numbers were not identified by the victims, the vehicles had not been traced as yet, but that investigations are underway. A complaint bearing the number EIB 388/83 has been lodged at the Matara Police by Mr. V.A. Lalith Anuruddha, Personal Secretary to Mr. Sanjeewa.
Mr. Anuruddha confirmed to CMEV that the initial shots were fired from the back of the vehicle targeting Mr. Sanjeewa. He added that he also heard the attackers yelling to each other to kill Mr. Sanjeewa. Mr. Anuruddha and Mr. Sanjeewa both told CMEV that they suspect the UPFA of the attack, though they did not name a specific person.
When contacted, a staff member of the UPFA Matara Office told CMEV that they had not heard of the incident, and that they were in no way involved. The staff member refused to provide his name or designation, and no longer picks up CMEV’s calls.
Grenade Attack in Batticaloa
According to SLMC supporter Mr. Buhari Mohommed Mubharak, at 3.00am this morning, a grenade was lobbed at the front of his home located at Chemmanodai, Ottamawadi, by unidentified persons, causing damage to walls and windows of the house. No one was injured in the attack. Mr. Mubharak added that neighbours had seen a motorbike leaving the vicinity of the premises. He added that he called 119 at 3.05am, the Army arrived on the scene at 3.20am and the Valachchenai Police arrived on the scene at approximately 3.40am. Mr. Mubharak also stated that while he had not seen the attackers, he suspected UPFA supporter Mr. Y.S. Mansoor may be involved as Mr. Manoor had on several occasion tried to get Mr. Mubharak to work for the UPFA.
When contacted, Elections OIC of the Valachchenai Police SI Bandara Balasuriya confirmed the grenade attack to CMEV, adding that the damages were not severe.
Valachchenai Police CI Kodisinghe told CMEV that a complaint has been lodged in this regard bearing the number EIB 98-109. CI Kodisinghe told CMEV that Mr. Mubharak seemed very afraid and did not initially name the suspects, but that he subsequently spoke of several threats from UPFA supporter Mr. Y.S. Mansoor. The complaint for the incident was initially recorded as a GCR, but moved later to the EIB.
North Central Province
Shooting in Anuradhapura
According to North Central Provincial Councilor (UNP) Mr. Prasanna Mahindarathne, at 1.05am this morning, a group of unidentified persons had arrived in a van, parked in front of Mr. Mahindarathne’s house located in Kalundegama, broken the lights on the gate, and fired approximately 30 shots at his house. The majority of the shots had struck a canter (NCLD 4377) that was parked in front of the house, while approximately 4 shots had struck his house. One of these shots had entered a room through a lattice. No one was injured in the attack.
Mr. Mahindarathne called 119 right away, but the Police only arrived at the scene at approximately 2.30am. Mr. Mahindarathne stated that 3-4 soldiers from the Kalundegama Army Training Camp located in the vicinity of his house, had visited his home this morning, and that they had identified the weapon as being a T-56, based on the bullet casings and the one bullet that entered the house. He added that the soldiers had stated that this particular type of bullet was only used by the Police. Based on eyewitness description of the attackers by his Secretary Mr. Alexander, Mr. Mahindarathne suspects Mr. Ajith Kumara, Secretary to the Non Cabinet Minister of Petroleum Resources Mr. Duminda Dissanayake, and Mr. Shaman Pradeep, a UPFA supporter, are responsible for the attacks.
Mr. Mahindarathne added that he had not named the suspects in his complaint to the Police, citing previous incidents of partiality. CMEV previously reported an incident on the 17th of January, in which the suspects named in this incident, allegedly attempted to assault and then threaten Mr. Mahindarathne with a fire arm, while in the premises of the Thambuththegama Police.
When contacted, the OIC Thambuththegama Police IP Thalwatte told CMEV that the Police visited the location twice, and that the weapon used has been confirmed as a T-56. He said that no attackers were identified in the complaint. He confirmed that Mr. Mahindarathne had requested Police protection citing death threats, but that they were unable to provide such protection without an order from the DIG. CMEV was asked to call back later to obtain information regarding the complaint.
Subsequently, when CMEV contacted the Thambuththegama Police as requested, an Officer who refused to provide his name also refused to provide the number of the complaint, or state whether the complaint was recorded in the Elections Information Book or the Crimes Information Book, citing orders from above to not provide any info to anyone other than the Police Media Spokesperson.
The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) conducted a field visit to the Jaffna, Killinochchi and Vavuniya districts from 17-19th January 2010 to monitor the situation prior to the 26th January Presidential election. CMEV met with residents of the area including those who had recently returned, internally displaced person (IDPs), civil society groups, agencies and government officials.
Read the latest report by CMEV that captures the total number of violations in the Presidential Election campaign, with graphs and charts.
This update released 18 January 2010. Read it in Sinhala here.
North Western Province
Murder in Kurunegala
According to Mr. Manjula Bandara (son of Member of Parliament and UNP Organizer for Wariyapola Ms. Amara Piyaseeli), between 12.30am and 1.00am this morning, Mr. Dhammika Herath (also known as Manju) was beaten to death by supporters of Minister of Rural Industries & Self-Employment Promotion S.B. Navinne. Mr. Herath was pronounced dead on arrival at the Wariyapola Hospital, and the body has been sent to the Kurunegala Consultant JMO Dr. H.M.K. Senanayake for the postmortem. According to Dr. Senanayake, the postmortem has been concluded, and the cause of death has been established as damage to the spinal chord as a result of a blow to the back of the neck. He added that the body also contained 7 bruises.
According to eyewitness information received by Dr. Senanayake, the assailants attacked the group, during which one person fell to the ground, and the assailants fled the scene subsequently. The fact that Mr. Herath had passed away was noted only while taking him to the hospital.
CMEV is running a tri-lingual public information campaign to raise awareness on the documents required for voter identification in the run up to the Presidential Elections.
The posters and banner ads can be seen, freely downloaded, printed and disseminated via from here. They also appear below as an interactive screenshow.
As at 12.00 noon 10th October, 2009 Colombo Sri Lanka: Voting for the Southern Provincial Council elections commenced at 7.00 a.m. today with relatively low incidents of election related violence. According the CMEV monitors, a total of 20 election-related incidents have been recorded since polls opened from all three districts. 07 of these incidents have been categorized as major and 13 as minor. 10 incidents have been reported from Galle, 05 incidents have been reported from Matara and 05 incidents from Hambantota district.
Download full CMEV report here.
Download a PDF of this report here.
07th August, Colombo, Sri Lanka Sine the close of nominations on 24 June 2009, the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) has confirmed 08 incidents of election related violence with regards to the elections to the Jaffna Municipal Council and Vavuniya Urban Council.
Of these incidents, 03 assaults and 02 threats had been reported from Jaffna MC while 01 assault, 01 incident of intimidation and 01 threat have been recorded from Vavunniya UC. The UPFA alliance was directly accused of being responsible for 06 incidents whereas the TULF and the DPLF were each accused of one incident each.
Jaffna Municipal Council
TNA parliamentarian, Gajendran Ponnambalam reported to CMEV that anonymous threatening telephone calls were made to Tamils living abroad to the effect that their relatives who reside in Jaffna should not vote on the 8th.
CMEV received reports that approximately 3,000 polling cards were seized from voters in Navalthurai area. TULF mayoral candidate Ananda Sangari told CMEV that he had received similar information and was making further inquiries. He also alleged that EPDP supporters had procured polling cards for cash from voters.
CMEV contacted the Assistant Election Commissioner’s office Jaffna, Chief Clerk N.B. Navaratnam, reported to CMEV that according to the records they received from the Jaffna Post Office 40,390 polling cards remain undelivered as of 06th August at 12.30pm. The ballots cards can be collected by voters up to 3 pm on polling day.
UNP Parliamanetarian Dr. Jayalath Jayawardana reported to CMEV that the Jaffna Chief Post Master, A.Yoganayagam told him that 3,774 polling cards have been distributed on the 07th to people who were able to prove their identity. He suspected that some irregularities could have happened in the distribution. ITAK authorized polling agent, S.X. Kulanayagam alleged that 5,000 polling cards had been stolen from the Jaffna Post office by an unknown group. CMEV was unable to verify these allegations with the Jaffna Post Master. Kulanayagam claimed that ITAK had received information that the UPFA was preparing forged documents for electoral malpractice and that they had brought special equipment to Jaffna for this purpose from Colombo.
CMEV contacted UPFA mayoral candidate, K. Theventhiram who rejected the allegations and claimed that EPDP party leader, Minister Douglas Devananda has strictly instructed candidates and members not to get involved in any violence or malpractices but to ensure a free and fair election, which reflected the peoples’ verdict. He further noted that the UPFA has not got involved in any violence during the election campaign.
CMEV field monitors reported that campaign posters have not been removed. Instead tar has been applied on the symbol and the preferential numbers. Displaying posters in spaces apart from approved political party offices and candidates home is an election offence according to the section 81B of Local Authorities Elections Ordinance of no 53 of 1946
Continuing campaigning activities are reported from the field. TNA Parliamentarian Shivashakthi Anandan told CMEV that supporters of Minister Rishad Badiudeen are continuing their campaigning for the UPFA in the Pandarikulam area. M.P Anandan also claimed that UPFA (Sri TELO) candidate, P.Udayarasa (candidate no 09) conducted a meeting in Srinagar area at around 06.00pm today (7th August).
CMEV field monitors report that campaigning activities still continues in Pattanichchoori area by ACMC (constituent party of UPFA) and SLMC supporters targeting the Muslim voters
CMEV received reports that posters and banners have been removed by the Vavuniya Police and some of the posters had been tarred in the town areas. It is reported that Vavuniya Police urged the public through loud speakers in the evening hours not to commit violence.
100,417 voters from Jaffna Municipal Council and 24,626 voters from Vavuniya Urban Council will poll on 8th August. 68 Polling stations have been set up for Jaffna MC and 18 for Vavuniya UC apart from 16 cluster booths for Jaffna MC. CMEV will deploy 46 stationary monitors and four mobile teams to monitor the Jaffna MC and Vavuniya UC Elections.
Taking into account all the allegations, CMEV is of the view that the huge difference between the actual number of voters and registered voters and the absence of voters’ NIC numbers on the polling cards/electoral register would increase the possibility for the malpractices. CMEV calls up on all the political parties and the authorities to ensure the integrity of the polls
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
The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) made a fact finding visit to
Vavuniya from 23-24th July to assess the situation there with regard to the Urban
Council Election on 8 May 2009. CMEV met with political party leaders, candidates, the
Assistant Election Commissioner, Police, members of the Bar Association, Chamber of
Commerce, Civil Society leaders, activists and members of the general public.
One hundred and thirty five (135) candidates from six political parties and three
independent groups are contesting the election for the 11 seat Vavuniya Urban Council.
Most of the political parties engage in house to house visits, pocket meetings and
campaigning in vehicle convoys using loudspeakers. Posters and cutouts of all political
parties except the Sri Lanka Progressive Front and independent groups can be seen
Download the full report here.
The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) visited Jaffna from the 19 -22 July
2009 in the lead up to elections for the Jaffna Municipal Council which will be held on
the 8th of August 2009. CMEV will monitor the elections to the Jaffna Municipality
throughout the campaign and on the Election Day through the deployment of Field
Monitors, Polling Booth Monitors on Election Day as well as Mobile Teams. During the
visit CPA met with political party leaders, candidates, the GA and the Assistant
Commissioner of Elections, leading civil society actors including religious leaders, the
media, the business sector, lawyers, representatives from the fishing community,
academics and university students.
Read the report in full here.