No election monitors from anti-Lanka Europe: Polls Chief
No election monitors will be invited from European countries to monitor elections to the Northern, Central, North Western provinces, Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya has told secretaries of political parties. He said this decision was taken on a request made to him not to entertain monitors from countries that had voted against Sri Lanka at the March UN Human Rights Council sessions in Geneva. He did not say from where the request came.
The countries that voted against Sri Lanka were Argentina, Austria, Benin, Brazil, Costa Rica, Chile, the Czech Republic, Ivory Coast, Estonia, Germany, Guatemala, India, Ireland, Italy, Montenegro, Peru, Poland, Moldova, Rumania, Sierra Leone, Spain, South Korea, Switzerland and the United States.
Instead, the Department of Elections would only invite motors from the South Asian Election Management Board and the Asian Election Monitoring Authority, he said. Earlier, the main opposition United National Party and its allies in Vipakshaye Virodaya had urged that monitors be invited from European countries.
Mr. Deshapriya told the political party representatives that the foreign monitors would be here just before the polls. This was because the department lacked funds to have them here from nomination day to polls day.
Five local monitoring groups, including the Peoples Action Front for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) and Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CAFÉ).
The department has identified at least eight areas as ‘hotspots’ where security needs to be strengthened. They are the North, Nawalapitiya, Hanguranketa, Laggala,, Anamaduwa, Puttalam, Kurunegala and Nikaweratiya. The Elections Department will also set up its own monitoring process at district level and later expand it to divisional secretariat level, if required.
Meanwhile, the Commissioner has assured political parties that the Army will play no role in conducting the upcoming provincial elections in the North and other provinces. The assurance was given after political parties on Friday at a meeting with the Commissioner expressed concern that the Army would play a role in the upcoming elections and sought an assurance that only the police would handle election related activities.
The Commissioner in consultation with Police Chief N.K. Illangakoon who was present at the meeting said more policemen would be moved into the three provinces. However, an appeal by the Tamil National Alliance that the military be confined to the barracks during the election period was turned down. The Commissioner said this was a matter related to national security and would have to be taken up with the President.
More than 4.3 million voters are eligible to vote in the three provinces to elect 142 members to the respective provincial councils. The estimated cost for the polls is Rs. 1.5 billion.
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