Election Monitor hopes to make the election free and fair, says violence is at a minimum

(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –Sri Lanka’s election monitor, People for Free and Fair Election (PAFFREL) that it is trying to make the Presidential election a free and fair election by continuing to monitor until the post-election period.

Addressing a press conference held at the Social and Peace Center, Colombo to release the second media statement regarding the 2019 presidential election, National Coordinator Sujeewa Gayanath said, The PAFFREL organization has deployed around 1000 monitors for postal voting.

The National Coordinator said that the training of 3000 on-site monitors is currently in its final stages and it is expected to be completed by the 11th November.

Speaking at the press conference, Executive Director Rohana Hettiarachchi said that he was doing his utmost to make the election of the seventh Executive President of Sri Lanka a free and fair election.

He further stated that the use of state power and property in the presidential election is at a considerable level as in the last presidential election.

The Executive Director pointed out that there has been a lot of talk in the society regarding the neutrality of the media and that steps have already been taken to inform the President, who is the Minister in charge of the subject and other responsible institutions.

Hettiarachchi noted that although the party that has been affected the most by violence during the last elections is the opposition, this time it’s the ruling party. He said the ruling alliance New Democratic Party (NDF) has been affected 15 times by violence acts and the opposition SLPP has been identified as the aggrieved party on seven occasions. The highest number of incidents was reported in the Colombo District.

However, the Executive Director said the election violence at this election is at a minimum. The posters and cutouts have been reduced to a considerable extent.

“Violence has been significantly reduced in the election. Although there has been a slight increase over the last few days, there is a significant decrease when compared to the 2015 election. In 2015, 36 serious incidents were reported during the entire period. Only nine incidents have been reported so far. In the last elections, the party that has been affected was the opposition. However, this time the victims of the violence have been those who are affiliated to the government,” Hettiarachchi said.

“There is a serious discussion in the society regarding media neutrality. There has been some discussion about the lack of media space for political candidates. The use of race and religion has been reported by observers to date.”

“We see serious abuse of state power and state property in both the last presidential election and this presidential election. The difference is in the last election many of the allegations were leveled against the government. But this time the Central Government, the Provincial Governments, the Provincial Council and the Local Authorities have been accused of abuse of state property.

He said that 23 local government bodies have been charged and most of belong to the opposition political parties. Also, six provincial governors have been accused.

“There are complaints on a daily basis that they are doing politics, using vehicles and resources of provincial councils,” said Rohana Hettiarachchi.

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