Almost all the 352 complaints received by the Complaints Centre of the Elections Commissioner’s Department up to yesterday (3) are against UPFA candidates or supporters. Among the complaints are 287 cases of election law violations and 53 incidents of violence.
One hundred complaints of polls law violations have been reported from the Anuradhapura District, while the others were reported from Ampara (72) Kegalle (45), Batticaloa (40), Ratnapura (38), Trincomalee (36) and Polonnaruwa (12), while nine incidents (playing recorded speeches made by the President) were common in all districts.
A spokesman for the Complaints Centre told The Island that they had also received 53 complaints of violence, with the highest reported from Ampara (20) followed by Batticaloa (17), Anuradhapura (six), Ratnapura (five) and Trincomalee (four).
Observers, however, noted that unlike most recent past elections, there had been no fatalities so far.
Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya hasn’t received any complaints from political parties so far regarding Friday’s live telecast of ‘Janapathi Janahamuwa’ by both state-run and privately owned television stations in violation of guidelines on giving equal coverage in the run-up to North-Central, Sabaragamuwa and Eastern Provincial Council elections
Deshapriya was responding to our main news item, ‘President’s TV show violates Polls Chief’s guidelines-UNP’ in the Aug. 27 issue. Asked whether he received any complaints at least over the phone, Deshapriya said that UNP National List MP R. Yogarajan and two polls monitoring groups, PAFFREL and CAFFE. Deshapriya, too, raised the issue with him.
Responding to a query, the polls chief said that he advised MP Yogarajan to request UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake, MP, to make a complaint in writing.
Deputy Secretary General of the UNP Dr. Jayalath Jayawadena on Sunday alleged that the Elections Secretariat had failed to implement its guidelines, as regards media coverage given to political parties. Dr. Jayawardena asserted that the Election Secretariat should take it up with all television stations involved in the three-hour long live telecast. The Gampaha District MP urged the Elections Secretariat not to shun its duty.
A center postal election at Hingurakgoda Divisional Secretariat has been closed down and the Divisional Secretary and a group of officials had joined a group of ministers for a party complains the JVP. The center for postal election being held yesterday has been closed down at 11.30 a.m. and has not been opened for polling after that.
A letter under the letter heading of the Divisional Secretary has been sent to all officials to go to Gold Power Hotel at Hingurakgoda stating a discussion on development would be held. The JVP Leader for the group of candidates for the North – Central PC election T.B. Sarath said several ministers including Johnston Fernando and Siripala Gamlath were present but no discussion on development was held. However, a discussion has been held regarding the UPFA campaign and all participants were treated with plenty to eat and drink says Mr. T.B. Sarath.
Scheduling elections prematurely on a staggered run is a strategic device to hold an early Presidential Election -provinces are artfully selected to declare a winner enabling the early bird to pick worms on the ground, as the serial unfolds. Results are infectious, sufficient to spread its impact to neighbouring provinces in a game where the winner finally takes all. Then goes on to bag the precious Presidential Prize comfortably.
Buy one, buy two that’s easy; and get the problematic cheaper. Gentle way to kill an opponent softly with a sincere smile at a free and fair election. Opposition obediently falls in line, without bitterly complaining. It’s legitimate and carries precedence to gain credence making the Election Commissioner a mere counting agent with the result foretold. The precedent sought had justification when security was a concern. No more but all is fair in politics. At the Presidential and General Elections, in difficult times, an island-wide poll was held on a single day.
Having received complaints regarding a possible attempt to interfere with postal voting on August 27 and 28, at the forthcoming elections to the Sabaragamuwa, North-Central and Eastern Provincial Councils, Elections Chief Mahinda Deshapriya has taken a series of measures to convince the Opposition of transparency in the process.
Deshapriya said that additional measures had been taken, in addition to the existing mechanism, to prevent interference in the postal voting process.
Addressing the media at the Elections Secretariat, Rajagiriya, yesterday, Deshapriya emphasized that he was taking counter measures to prevent any unwarranted situation, though there was no confirmation of an organized attempt to interfere with the process.
He revealed that the Elections Secretariat had received many complaints targeting the Civil Security Department (CSD). Although, complaints made against CSD or any other institution couldn’t be considered 100 per cent accurate, the Elections Secretariat couldn’t ignore them, the outspoken official said.
Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya has directed Secretary to the Ministry of Public Administration and Home Affairs P. B. Abeykoon to suspend all recruitments to the public service until the elections to the three provinces North-Central, Eastern and Sabaragamuwa were over.
These instructions came in the context of Minister of Public Administration and Home Affairs W. D J. Seneviratne trying to appoint 43,000 graduates as Programme Officers under the programme to employ graduates, which began in 2005.
Those graduates had been attached to the state sector to serve in ministries, departments and statutory bodies. The ministry was planning to absorb the graduates who passed out in the years 2010 and 2011.
Despite attempts by election officials to curtail the misuse of state property and resources, ruling party politicians continued to use state property, vehicles and public servants for propaganda activities in the run-up to next month’s provincial elections in the North Central, Eastern and Sabaragamuwa provinces, polls monitors said.
No place is too high or low when it comes to pasting posters as seen in these pictures by K.G. Karunaratne in Polonnaruwa Job interviews and official meetings summoned by ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance politicians continued raising concern among the monitoring groups.They pointed out that the government’s decision this week to grant additional benefits to the home guard and civil defence force service also was a violation of the election laws.
The Cabinet on August 8 approved a proposal made by the President, to grant pension benefits to Home Guards and Civil Defence Force personnel. The Cabinet also decided to formulate suitable schemes of recruitment and salary scales for the two services, in consultation with the Treasury and other relevant authorities.
The distribution of polling cards for the September 08 provincial council elections will begin today.
The relevant district election officers yesterday handed over the cards to the postal superintendents. Next Sunday has been declared a special postal delivery day and the Postal Department has requested voters to be at home to receive their polling cards.
There are 3,336,415 eligible voters in the three provinces – North-Central, Eastern and Sabaragamuwa - for the elections to be held on September 08. There are 347,099 voters in the Batticaloa District, 441,287 in the Amapara District, 245,363 in the Trincomalee District, 606,507 in the Anuradhpura District, 294,365 in the Polonnaruwa District, 769,813 in the Rathnapura District and 631,981 voters in the Kegalle District, according to elections department sources.
The casting of postal votes for the Eastern, Sabaragamuwa and North-Central Provincial Council elections is scheduled to take place on August 27 and 28.
Commissioner of Elections, Mahinda Deshapriya is pleased with the decisive stance take by President Mahinda Rajapaksa to uphold election laws and act against election law violators.
Speaking to Ceylon Today, Deshapriya said that Minister of Mass Media and Information, Keheliya Rambukwella, had at the Cabinet briefing on Thursday (16) said the President had instructed the police to take action against the election violators, irrespective of their status.
“I am glad the President himself has got involved in handling the election law violations and instructed the police to take tough action and this will make things easy for us,” he said.
Deshapriay also said that 168 complaints have been received by the election centres in the three provinces. Out of them, 20 complaints have been regarding verbal abuse, assaults and minor violence.
The Elections Department has recorded nearly 100 complaints related to election law violations by yesterday from all three provinces, however, there aren’t any serious incidents, according to the Elections Complaints Division.
Most of the incidents were related to the use of public property and state owned vehicles, illegal cut out and posters in public places and the use of loud speakers, officials said.
With escalating election law violence in the three provinces, particularly in the North Central Province (NCP), at the forthcoming elections, Commissioner General of Elections, Mahinda Deshapriya has instructed officials to release a set Code of Ethics to all concerned parties. The Elections Secretariat officials yesterday said that they had already posted the set of Code of Ethics which is aimed at police, media institutions, election monitoring organizations and for political parties.
Additional Elections Commissioner, R.M.A.L. Ratnayake said the Code of Ethics was introduced due to an increase in the number of election law violations.