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Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) has received 84 complaints during the Election Day (September 21) between 7 am and 4 pm. Out of which 38 have been on illegal election propaganda. There were 26 cases of election related violence, with three shooting incidents, and 11 instances of security force involvement.
We received the highest number of complaints from Jaffna District (30,) followed by Kandy (13,) Puttalam (10,) Nuwara Eliya (8,) Kilinochchi (7,) Kurunegala (5,) Matale (4,) Mannar (3,) Mullaitivu (3,) and Vavuniya (1.) The total number of incidents reported from the North was 44. Involvement of military personnel CaFFE received 11 complaints on security force personnel involving in election activities. 10 such instances were reported in Jaffna District while one incident was reported from Mullaitivu District. In most instances men suspected to be from the security forces, ‘short haired, well built, wearing identical clothing,’ had attempted to intimidate/influence voters who were on their way to polling stations. There were a few isolated incidents of identity cards of individuals been taken, e.g National Identity Card of Nagarathnam Jayachandran – a resident of the Grama
Niladhari zone Naavakkuli, West Kayts was taken by a group that arrived at his residence on September 20. The Northern Province is one of the most militarised areas of Asia. The all-pervasive military presence and its alleged surveillance of all political and social activism unaffiliated to the Government have caused many election stakeholders to worry about how security personnel would be used in elections. While the initial complaints were of Security Forces personnel conducting surveillance on Opposition candidates and supporters, the most recent allegations are of their involvement in the election campaigns of selected candidates. Election related violence There were 26 cases of election related violence with three shooting incidents. The Election Day dawned with a serious incident of assault in Wennappuwa. Residences of four well known United National Party (UNP) candidates in Wennappuwa area, Oliver Fernando, resident of Kadawatha Road, Wennappuwa, Camillus Appuhami, Dankotuwa, Yogiyana Ravimanis, Wennappuwa and Mackie Fernando, Nainamaduwa were attacked by a group lead by United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) MP Arundika Fernando. The MP continued his aggression well into the Election Day. His supporters threatened an individual near the polling center at St. Anna Maha Vidyalaya (no- 33) located in Boralessa at about 10 am and a large number of people called CaFFE election hotline stating that there is a fear psychosis in the area and that they are afraid to go to the polling station. The above mentioned instances involving firearms are 1. UPFA contestant Lohan Ratwatte who had arrived at a polling station in Panwila in a defender jeep had fired shots into the air. The incident has resulted in voters developing a reluctance to vote. Urban Council member Thawarasa - a supporter of TNA contest Sajinandan has been arrested by the Police under charges of illegally entering the polling station at Chavakachcheri Warani Maha Vidyalaya. While the Police detained him within the polling station, another TNA supporter had visited the polling station to hand him some food and he had been shot from within an army camp in the vicinity. The Grama Niladhari and returning officer of the polling station has confirmed the shooting took place. Nadarasa Thawarasa has received injuries from a shot fired by a Police jeep near the polling station at the Sinnadaban Bharathi Government Tamil Vidyalaya. The incident had occurred at about 9.30 am today and since then the voter turnout has dropped significantly. Even though the last incident has been claimed to be a misfire it was disheartening for the Northern voters, as victims of a 30-year civil war, who are extremely averse to firearms. Illegal Election Propaganda CaFFE also received 38 incidents of illegal election propaganda. Illegal propaganda material
was greatly visible in Nawalapitiya, Gampola, Galaha, Theldeniya, Ududumbara, Harispattuwa, Udapalatha (Gampola) PS areas, and throughout Kurunegela, Johan Fernando’s posters, until 10 am on Election Day. Supporters of UPFA candidate Pramitha Bandara Tennakoon were involved in two of the most serious incidents of illegal election propaganda on Election Day, near Rathmalgahaela Polling booth, Dambulla and near the polling center at Wahakotte government school in Galkiriyagama, Dambulla. Voter buying process through cash and liquor has reached to new levels, both from the ruling and opposition parties in Kurunegala, Matale and Nuwara Eliya. CaFFE election observer assaulted Election monitors attached to Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) been assaulted by supporters of the EPDP in Shanthipuram, Kilinochchi a short while ago today (September 21.) CaFFE observers Sudakaran and Gunarasa were assaulted by EPDP supporters, who were distributing food among voters. Gunarasa was admitted to the Kilinochchi Hospital. Earlier Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) received a complaint that Kilinochchi voters are being transported in vehicles in Walappadu, Veravil Poonakari. When CaFFE observers arrived they saw around 20-25 persons and observed EPDP supporters, with a group that can be suspected as military personnel, were distributing biscuits and soft drinks among those gathered. A fishermen’s cooperative by EPDP was carrying this out using vehicle no WP HC 6131. They have told us that EPDP always distributed biscuits and soft drinks to voters in each election. At this point Kilinochchi MP Chandrakumaran has spoken with one of our observers over the phone. He has asked our monitor whether CaFFE is supporting the TNA. The MP spoke to our monitor on 0777 811 218. CaFFE informed the Commissioner of Elections about the activities of the EPDP and we copied our complaint to the MP. It was at this point that the EPDP supporters assaulted our observers. CaFFE team was lead by one of our officers in Galle, she is one of the most senior election monitors in the country. The others in the team, also well experienced, are residents of Kilinochchi. After the attack the EPDP MP wrote to CaFFE alleging that we support the TNA. CaFFE is dismayed by the attacks on independent election monitors, first in Jaffna and now in Kilinochchi, as we consider this as an indication of the situation prevalent during the election. Access to counting centres – the struggle continues In the day leading up to the election serious concerns arose regarding the counting stage of the elections. UPFA candidate from Kurunegala District Dayasiri Jayasekara told media that he is worried that election results will be manipulated at the counting stage causing anxiety among the voters. We wrote to the Commissioner of Elections on September 18 seeking permission to observe the counting of votes citing these remarks. A few days later we wrote to the Commissioner again on September 20 as developments in Jaffna caused us to fear that the fight for preferential votes in the North will have a significant effect during the counting. CaFFE felt that the EPDP is forced to compete aggressively against other parties of the coalition ( see CaFFE's interim report on the NPCE 'Signs of Hope Over the
Broken Palmyrah.') The systematic campaign against the EPDP, so that candidates from other coalition partners will have an advantage over the EPDP, has caused unrest among the EPDP hardliners. And the developments in Kilinochchi in recent days, allegations of security forces backing UPFA candidate G Nakuleswaran, has added to the tense situation. CaFFE wrote to the Commissioner for the third time on the Election Day as we got reports that persons affiliated to security forces will be deployed for counting in the Northern Province. However neither of our efforts were met with success. During the press conference we held on the Election Day evening CaFFE’s executive Director Keerthi Tennakoon said that transparent ballot boxes does not ensure credible counting. “We just witnessed a historical election, we ad to wait 25 years for this. Just as important is allowing independent monitors to observe the elections. We tried to gain access thrice this time, hopefully our efforts will be fruitful by the next election.” Conclusion The entire process determines the fairness of an election, not by the incidents that take place in an Election Day. CaFFE received 576 complaints during the pre election time, the highest ever reported to CaFFE in an election. Bearing in mind that this is a Provincial Election and only 10 out of 25 districts went to the polls, the pre election environment was neither free nor fair. Abuse of state property was at an all time high with 201 incidents (36% of reported incidents.) The involvement of ‘short haired, well built, identically dressed individuals, who walk according a marching rhythm,’ in the election campaigns of selected candidates in the North added a new dimension to the elections. Violence among the candidates of the same party was another highlight. Election monitors were assaulted during pre election time and the polling day. The independent election monitors who have become the biggest thorn in the side of some of the law violators were attacked not only during the pre election time as well as Election Day. In addition CaFFE monitoring team who had the largest number of mobile units that operated in Jaffna were blocked in seven strategically important polling stations in Jaffna. CaFFE does not believe that this was an error or simply a miscommunication, neither was this a coincidence. CaFFE has received four complaints by UPFA candidates and their close associates, in Puttalam, and CaFFE has requested us three time to monitor the counting, the most vital part of the election. We do not rule out that the group of people who have ‘short haired, well built, identically dressed individuals, who walk according a marching rhythm,’ might come inside counting centres. There is no justification for not allowing local observers into the counting centres as the opportunity was given to the international observers to please them and the international community. Letting the international observers, around 20 who were so tired after very long hours on the field monitoring the polling, will not help the transparency of the counting what so ever. Moreover the elections in most of the districts were held around small polling places
surrounded by thousands of illegal propaganda materials. Throughout Kurunegala places like Gampola, Nawalapitiya, Harispattuwa and Ududumbara has never met even the lowest standards accepted in an election. Fairness of an election should not be judged by the explanations but the actions to place during the electoral process. Despite all the incidents that took place CaFFE hopes that the long overdue democratization and the path for true norms of representative democracy will open with the Northern Elections. CaFFE Board of Directors 9.40 pm – September 21, 2013
Election Law Violations – Summary Election law violation Misuse of public property, using state employees for electioneering, appointment and transfers during election period=3 Illegal election propaganda=38 Involvement of security forces=11 Other=6 Total=58 Election violence Damaging property and Illegal election propaganda=0 Assaults and Threatening=26 Total=26 Combined total\=84
Election law violations Total Jaffna 30 22
Kilinochchi 7 Mannar 3 Vavuniya 1 Mullativu 3 Other North
6 1 0 2
1 2 1 1
Total (North) 44 Kandy 13 Nuwara Eliya 8 Matale 2 2 4 Other Central
Total (Central) 25 Kurunegala 5 Puttalam 10 Other N.W
Total (N.W) 15 Combined total 84
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