EU Monitors Rejected

eu-flag_1By Waruni Karunarathne

A request to consider election monitors from the European Union (EU) has been rejected by four Presidential candidates.

Election Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya told The Sunday Leader that he can only invite election monitors from the unions or forums only if the Department of Election or the country holds memberships of those unions.

He said that if he is to invite any other monitors from organisations which Sri Lanka does not hold a membership, he needs to obtain the consent of all the candidates who are contesting the election. “Four presidential candidates disagreed to invite the election monitors from the EU. Therefore, we will not be able to call upon the election monitors from the EU,” Election Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya explained.

Deshapriya said that he has invited election monitors from the Commonwealth as Sri Lanka is part of the Commonwealth and monitors from South Asia as the country is a member of the Forum of the Election Management Body of South Asia (FEMBoSA) and Asia Association of Election Authority (AAEA).

Last week local election monitors in a joint statement, called for a free, fair and violence free Presidential election and raised concerns over the prevailing conditions in the country.

The People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL), Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV), Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL), the Campaign for Free and Elections (CaFFE), Movement for Free and Fair Elections (MFFE), Mothers and Daughters of Lanka (MDL) and the National Polls Observation Centre (NPOC) said that it is a right of the people to be able to choose a candidate of their choice within the framework of a free and fair contest.

“Sri Lanka is presently in the midst of its seventh presidential election. As election observers, whose primary objective is to ensure a free and fair environment for elections, we are concerned about the prevailing conditions. It is a right of the people to be able to choose a candidate of their choice within the framework of a free and fair contest,” the election monitors said.The election monitors said that they had observed spontaneous and organised violence rising, unfettered use of state resources for election campaign purposes, unfettered use of publicity material including hoardings and posters in clear violation of election laws and the failure by the police to sufficiently deal with election related violations, and violence which is in contravention of the regular laws of the country in the run up to the election.