PAFFREL in its report on the Saturday’s election said that it was mostly peaceful except in a few parts in the district of Colombo, especially in Kolonnawa, Matale and Hambantota. They also stated that in Kolonnawa a relatively tense situation prevailed before the election due to clashes and intimidation.
In the third stage of the local government elections which concluded on Saturday, a total of 420 candidates were chosen in eight provinces, for office in 17 Municipal Councils, one Urban Council and five Pradeshiya Sabahas by a total of about 1.6 million voters. As many as 6,458 candidates contested for the seats in the various local government bodies. The voter turnout is estimated to be in the range of 55-60%.
Based on its experience PAFFREL observed the election with stationary observers supported by teams of mobile observers. Members of the public and political parties provided inputs to the process facilitated by long term observers and district coordinators. PAFFREL also participated in the All Party Operations Room established by the Elections Department and the special unit in Kolonnawa.
PAFFREL placed observers in the district operations units in Matara, Badulla and Kolonnawa to address election complaints. PAFFREL stationary and mobile observers were expected to cover about 80% of the1,167 polling booths.
In the pre-election period a total of 163 incidents were recorded by PAFFREL of which the majority was of violations of elections laws with a significant proportion due to misuse of public property. There were 30 incidents of violence including 14 incidents of assault and three shootings. As in most recent elections the misuse of government property and violation of election laws continued unabated. PAFFREL received complaints that some government officers seemed unwilling to address campaign violations of the ruling party.
Saturday’s election was mostly peaceful except in a few parts of districts of Colombo, especially in Kolonnawa, Matale and Hambantota. In Kolonnawa a relatively tense situation prevailed before the election due to clashes and intimidation. PAFFREL is sad to note that a clash near a polling booth yesterday resulted in a former MP of the ruling party being shot to death and an incumbent MP of the ruling party being seriously injured. Some voter intimidation was also noted in the Matale and Hambantota districts. PAFFREL received a total of 59 election related complaints on Saturday October 8, 2011.
In the first stage of the local government election two murders occurred, in the second stage one murder and yesterday, in the third stage at least three murders occurred. The intra party rivalries due to the proportional representation and disregard of election law seem to account for the violence.
Access of polling booths and the electoral processes to the disabled should receive increased attention and this is an area that will require coordinated action of the public and private sectors.
PAFFREL notes that the Elections Commissioner and his office responded speedily to complaints and took steps to resolve many issues in a speedy and effective manner.
This election witnessed a trend of large expenditures of funds for promotional material, special events, visits and campaigns by national level political personalities.
Political parties should pay more attention to addressing campaign expenditure regulations, and to abide by the laws disclosing assets of elected officials. Political parties, police officers and voters seem to be largely unconcerned about the violations of the prevailing laws and regulations that govern publicity and elections. (Source: PAFFREL)