Local election monitors, in a joint statement today, 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.
“We are apprehensive that the forthcoming weeks will only see a rise in such incidents, which will restrict the space for a free and fair electoral process. We are seriously concerned that incidents resulting in physical harm to political campaign supporters and members of the general public will increase due to the inability and/unwillingness of the Police to act independently and urgently to preempt and in response to such incidents,” they said.
The local election monitors asserted the need to act urgently and seek the support of the state, all political parties and contestants, public institutions, religious clergy, media, Sri Lankan citizens and civil society in this effort