ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday May 4, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 49

Poll observers: All set

By Madhushala Senaratne

Over 3000 officers, including 20 international observers from the Association of Asian Election Authority, have been invited by the Election Commissioner to monitor the May 10 poll.

A spokesperson for the Department of Elections said several polls-watch organizations including the People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL), Diriya Foundation and Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) will have their observers too at the polling stations.

Some organizations such as the Human Development Organization from Kandy have been invited to observe the elections from outside the polling stations, he said. The local election watchdog, PAFFREL has trained about 2000 observers to be on duty at the 1070 polling stations in Batticaloa, Ampara and Trincomalee.

“Two local observers will be present at each polling station. We are in the process of conducting training programmes,” PAFFREL deputy executive director Rohana Hettiarachchi said, adding that there are certain prerequisites for the observers, such as being above 18 years.

In addition, 35 mobile teams would also be deployed in these areas with each team comprising two to five observers. A team of observers, consisting of both local and international monitors, had been deployed during the pre-election period just after the nominations, he said.

Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) is also in the process of training its observers and conducting training programmes in areas such as Digamadulla, Trincomalee and Batticaloa. This organisation will be deploying around 1100 observers.

Diriya Foundation, a human rights organization that has monitored 11 previous elections would deploy about 20 observers.“Our monitors will be in areas that are usually overlooked such as Padiyathalawa in Ampara. Diriya secretary Lionel Gulawita said.

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