11th June 2000
Election under a commission
lifted the ban on meetings and demonstrations. Thereafter it also lifted
the censorship on foreign news. However, publishing in local media of war
news which appears in foreign media is also banned. Although the world
outside has been given the right to know the truth about the war in the
north of Sri Lanka, Censored, Censored, Censored, Censored, Censored.
The President states that the parliamentary election will be held on time whatever difficulties that may arise. It is important to hold elections on time. However, holding of elections on time, alone, is not enough. In addition to holding elections on time, they should also be held in a proper manner, that is to say, they should be free and fair.
It was at the time of J. R. Jayewardene's administration that a roguish system of elections was introduced and the ruling party could get the result it wanted. Although there were instances of corruption before that, they were not so serious as to change the fundamental trends.
Ms. Chandrika Kumaratunga came to power on the firm promise that she would not leave any room for roguish election practices through which a ruling party would be able to manipulate elections in such a way as to get the result it wanted. Censored
Although the Supreme Court has dismissed the Wayamba election petition, that cannot be a certificate that the Wayamba election was conducted honestly. The Commissioner of Elections admitted in public that there had been no other election as full of violence and roughness as the Wayamba election. Even the President was unable to deny that it was not corrupt. However, the distortion caused in the administration of the Wayamba Provincial Council by the corrupt election remains unchanged to date.
At the presidential election held in an extremely emotional and charged atmosphere no acts of violence were committed as at Wayamba. However, there are very serious allegations that there had been a very well-planned robbery of votes conducted in a subtle manner. There is evidence that bogus ballot papers were used in addition to official ballot papers. Bogus ballot papers, similar in appearance to the genuine ones have been found in a number of areas, while ballot papers, slightly differing from the genuine ones in width have been found at a number of counting centres. If the allegations are true, it means that corruption at elections is getting modernised.
The allegations that bogus ballot papers have been used are quite serious. It is the Election Commissioner's duty to inquire into the truth or otherwise of those allegations and to inform the public about it and to take action in order to ensure that such things will not happen again.
All the ballot papers used at the presidential election are with the Commissioner of Elections. The presidential election petition should not stand in the way of a proper inquiry. Whether there are, among the ballot papers used, those that had been printed in a printing press other than the Government Press, should be inquired into with the help of the head of the Government Press. First of all, several electoral divisions at which bogus ballot papers are alleged to have been used should be selected and an inquiry should be held as to whether there are bogus ballot papers among those used at that electoral division. The Commissioner of Elections can obtain a court order for the purpose, if necessary.
According to information now available, it is easy to distinguish between bogus ballot paper and genuine ones. The bogus ballot papers are somewhat broader than the genuine ballot papers. The same serial number is found on the back of the ballot papers. If there are bogus ballot papers among those used, it will be possible to find out which party, if any, has committed the fraud by seeing to whom the vote had been marked in those ballot papers.
The UNP during its period of administration organised the necessary rough actions for the purpose of getting the results it wanted at the elections. Censored, Censored, Censored, Censored,. If this practice is not put to an early end, the day on which the politics in the South becomes a violent war between a number of rapacious political groups cannot be far away. It is due to this sad situation in the political spirit of the south that Prabhakaran has been able to achieve an extremely strong position. It is this situation which has been the fundamental factor that has contributed to the failure to find a just solution to Tamil grievances.
Before those groups who have taken to terrorist ways are invited to enter the democratic stream, those who are already in the democratic stream must become democratic. If this massive collapse which has occurred is not ended, Things will lead to a disaster the system of political institutions must be strengthened by democratisation. If a parliamentary election is not held at the proper time and in the properl. manner, whatever crises there may be in the country, a worsening of the collapse two fold or threefold will be inevitable. Although holding the parliamentary election in a proper manner is not a solution to this problem, a strong start for the solution of the problem can be made only if the coming parliamentary election is held not only at the proper time but also in the proper manner. It will bring the new opportunity the society requires for a new reorganisation.
However, it will be possible to hold the coming parliamentary election in a manner that will win the confidence and respect of the people only if it is held under an independent election commission with adequate power as suggested by the European Union.
But while the government says various things about the parliamentary elections it is totally silent about the proposals of the European Union. The Opposition too does not appear to make a serious attempt to get such a Commission.
If the government has confidence in the people there can be no reason for it to object to any provision which leaves no room for rough practices.
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