- Underscores absence of campaign finance law and biased election coverage on media
By Yoshitha Perera
While concluding Sri Lanka’s presidential election observation, the European Union Election Observation Mission (EU-EOM) yesterday highlighted that the country should focus on reforms to enhance the legal power of the Elections Commission (EC).
Presenting the mission’s preliminary statement, Chief Observer Marisa Matias said a legal framework was generally adequate for holding democratic elections, but required important reforms to address enduring gaps, restrictions and legal uncertainties.
“As general observation, we can highlight that the Elections Commission had well managed the election process without having large-scale violence. The election day was peaceful; we were reported of only few violent incidents and the voter turnout happened within 83%,” she said.
She said though the whole campaign on the ground was largely peaceful and calm, as long-term missions, the country should focus on implementing legal reforms on campaign finance and to regulate instances of bias, hate-speech and disinformation.
“There was a peaceful campaign on the ground contrasted with divisive incidents with hate-speech and disinformation which traditionally spread around social media. The absence of campaign finance law and biased election coverage continued on both State and private media affected the whole process,” she said.
Ms. Matias added that the Elections Commission could have been more proactive and provided its explanations on voting patterns within a proper legal framework. She also notified the lack of women participation in a political framework.
“The participation of Sri Lankans in the election was very high and this was their day to exercise their right to democratic choice, and I hope that our observation has in some way contributed to their confidence in the process,” she said.
Notifies lack of women participation in a political framework