Defence Ministry clearance required for foreign observers visiting North: Spokesman

images (7)International Observers (IO) visiting the country to monitor the presidential election will require a ‘special clearance’ along with a recommendation from the Elections Commissioner, to visit the Northern Province for monitoring purposes, Military spokesman Brig. Ruwan Wanigasuriya said yesterday.

“We have not lifted the restrictions on travel to the North. Foreign nationals will not be allowed to visit the North under ‘blanket approval’ without obtaining necessary clearance from the Defence ministry,” he said.

He said there has been no official request to date, from the Elections Commissioner to the Defence Ministry, regarding this matter.

Brig Wanigasuriya said the Commissioner has to send the details of the foreign nationals including their passport details to the Defence Ministry to be processed before giving clearance.

“If there is no recommendation from the Commissioner, we will not know the purposes of these visits by the foreign nationals. If not, they have to follow the same procedure in place,” he said.

The Peoples Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) and the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) have obtained approval from the Commissioner to bring down more than 100 foreign observers from Asian countries.

Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya said they have also invited over 60 IOs from the Commonwealth, Forum of the Election Management Body of South Asia (FEMBoSA) and Asia Association of Election Authority (AAEA).

The Commissioner said those visiting the country for monitoring purpose will be allowed to visit any part of the country.

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