The Sunday Leader

Law-less’ Election?

By Waruni Karunarathne

Election monitors have observed election related violence and many election law violations within the short period since the declaration of the presidential election.  Among many, the government is accused of manipulating public servants by giving promotions, new appointments and transfers and misusing state media in support of the political campaign of the President.

According to PAFFREL Executive Director Rohana Hettiarachchi since the declaration of the election, they have reported 51 cases as at last Tuesday, out of which about 27 cases are election violence and the rest is election law violations. “There are six shooting incidents, another six or seven cases of assault. Recently, there was an attack carried out on the Common Candidate’s group of supporters. Around seven people were admitted to the hospital related to incidents of violence. Victims are mostly from the opposition supporters and allegations are against the government,” he added.

He highlighted incidents of election law violations where there are cases of abusing the government resources and power mainly in terms of new appointments, promotions and transfers. “Many new appointments, promotions and transfers have been given during last two to three weeks, especially in the police department and even in the Youth Centre. Once the national election is declared nobody can give promotions, transfers and new appointments.  This needs to be stopped by the Election Commissioner,” Hettiarachchi added.

He noted that the state print and electronic media support the government very clearly and even when it comes to private media only a very few media are playing a neutral role. According to him, they have leant that the Election Commissioner has issued many circulars and given instructions to the government institutions yet some of them may not be very effective.

He pointed out that there is no clear provision in the law that gives power to the Election Commissioner to take legal actions even if some of these instructions are being neglected. “That is another area we need to discuss and strengthen. The Election Commissioner and Election Department alone cannot do it, politicians should cooperate and police should not be neutral but take actions against incidents of violence,” Hettiarachchi added.

 

Treat for public servants

Observing the current incidents of election law violations, J.C Weliamuna from the Lawyers Collective predicted that this will be an election of all categories of election law violations – starting from unprecedented level of misuse of state resources. He added that the election law prohibits treating but alleged that the government was in violation of this. According to him, there are many reported instances where police, army personnel and public servants were called to the Temple Trees and given treats which considered as an offense ahead of the election where the President is a candidate.

“They also summoned public servants who are very crucial to maintain the independence of the election. Recently there was a meeting followed by dinner for all Chief Accountants of the district secretariats.

Those officers will be the Chief Counting Officers (CCO) at the election,” he pointed out. Weliamuna added that those 22 CCOs will be vital in finalising the counting and there is information alleging that these officers who were summoned have been given a tour to Malaysia for five days before the election. “That is not only bribery but it raises serious issues of the credibility of the election process,” Weliamuna added.

He recalled that there were allegations during the last presidential election regarding counting manipulations. He said that a number of public servants including Secretaries to the Ministries and senior officers are used for the political campaign of the President. “The Ministry of Economic Affairs is the campaign centre of the president.

The entire ministry and its mechanism are used for election campaign of the president. In my personal view, the election commissioner should never choose any of the public servants from that ministry for official work of the election,” Weliamuna added.

He stated that the State media is the propaganda tool of the government and now it has become the propaganda tool of the UPFA.

According to him, the state media will never respect the election commissioner’s guidelines or will never be allowed to respect equality in election. “I am sure they will be used to mislead people at various stages on vital issues in the election campaign,” he added.

Like many, he agreed that the election commissioner’s power to take some control over the election law violations was removed by introducing the 18th Amendment which has led to the unprecedented manner in which this government violates the election laws.

 

Newspaper sellers threatened

When the Ravaya newspaper claimed that the Head of State Intelligence Service (SIS), DIG Chandra Wakishta, had been removed from his post after producing the result of a pre-election survey comparing the expected voter percentage of the President and the common candidate Maithripala Sirisena, the Ravaya editor was questioned by the CID for publishing the news.

During the time of former President Chandrika Bandaranayake, a process was introduced not to take statement from a journalist related to news stories by summoning the journalist to the CID or police but to take statement at the newspaper office the journalist is attached to whereas the Ravaya  editor was called to the CID and questioned as to how he got the news and who would take the responsibility of its credibility.

“After publishing that news in November 30th as the main story inthe front page, the government claimed it to be false using state media,  whereas we have not to date received any correction from anybody,” Ravaya Editor K W Janaranjana said.

He added that they still stand by the news and its accuracy and have not changed their position. “Last week after the incident members of the CID had gone to newspaper outlets in Narahenpitiya, Pettha, Anamaduwa and have questioned them about how they get the paper, how many papers they sell and who buys the paper etc just to scare the newspaper sellers probably to stop them from buying our newspaper,” he added.

According to him, last Sunday some people who claimed to be police have threatened the newspaper seller in the main newspaper outlet in Negambo bus stand asking him not to sell Ravaya paper.

He added that this is part of government’s process of hiding the truth from the public and violating people’s right to information.

2 Comments for “Law-less’ Election?”

  1. daggy

    Can Rohana Hettiarachchi categorically state which election was that was conducted sans all the election violation since he undertook this $$$$$$$$$ job?
    Which government did not hide the truth? Was it CBK’s?

    Now Welumuna attempts to teach the 22 CCO’s how to count……. he, Welimuna himself has lost count of the $$$$$ & ITS CONEVERSIONS TO THE RUPPEE

    All this while on everyone’s lip was oh ! computer gilmart……..jilmart… ect.,
    Now the CC Sira himself have put that cheap skates to rest when he said there was no JILL OR MART at the 2010 Presedential Elections.

    Violence or not, Winner is the Winner on 08/Jan…………

  2. Namal Perera

    This is why we need to rediscover our lost Democratic Sri Lanka and chase away the crazy lunatics who turned it into a corrupt lawless Banana Republic that serve and protect only criminals.

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