At the conclusion of its presidential election monitoring programme in Sri Lanka, election observers from Commonwealth countries urged all Sri Lankans and their newly-elected leaders to be more inclusive at future elections.
In their preliminary report, Commonwealth Observer Group (COG) Chairman Prosper Bani said as independent observers, the COG came to be aware of the country's rich cultural and religious diversity and that all political leaders should prioritise social cohesion and inclusion.
“Although the campaign environment was largely peaceful, we noticed several ethnic and religious tensions which can be characterised as aspects of a pre-election environment. We observed that some groups were experiencing fear and intimidation,” he said.
Commenting on the Election Commission (EC), Mr. Bani said the Commission had implemented a system of transparency during the entire election process adding that the EC should be more independent at future elections.
“We observed that the EC was empowered to regulate public media through a set of media guidelines but it was not adhered to by most of the private media institutions. Private media was largely unregulated. We recommend that at upcoming elections, both private and state media be independently regulated under a legal framework,” he told the media conference.
Mr. Bani also highlighted the need for mechanisms to regulate campaign financing so as to ensure transparency, accountability and a level playing field.
The Commonwealth had deployed a group of monitors from November 10 onwards to observe the presidential election process. (Yoshitha Perera)