Take steps for free and fair polls, Monitors tell all concerned

With less than a week for the Central and North Western Provincial Council elections, monitors have requested candidates, supporters and police to take steps that would ensure elections are held in a free and fair manner.

Elections related violence reported so far have been considerably minimal when compared with recent provincial council elections. However, monitors and opposition parties claim threats and intimidation continue, causing fear and insecurity among the people.

Local elections watchdog People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) has so far received 47 election related incidents, its Deputy Executive Director Rohana Hettiarachchi said.

“We request political parties, party supporters and the police to help in ensuring that the elections are held in a free and fair manner,” he said. Media spokesperson for the Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE), Keerthi Tennekoon said 68 elections related violent incidents have been reported so far. However, no major incidents were reported this week, he said.

He added that thousands of voters, especially estate workers in the Nuwara Eliya district would not be eligible to vote at the upcoming elections as they did not possess the necessary identity documents.
There are 452,395 registered voters in the Nuwara Eliya District and according to a survey done by CaFFE around 71,250 of them do not possess national identity cards. However they do not know how many of the 71,250 have any kind of identity documentation that would make them eligible to vote, he said.

The final day for obtaining temporary identity cards for those who did not possess any form of identity was yesterday. Meanwhile, Central Province JVP chief ministerial candidate Samansiri Fernando claimed certain candidates were going around in Defender jeeps with bodyguards in an intimidating manner in the Central Province, notably in areas such as Kundasale and Harispaththu.

“Such incidents have created uneasiness among the people. On the surface this polls campaign seems less violent, but if you look deeper there is a lot of fear, threat and intimidation,” he said.

In Kuliyapitiya, the presiding officer at the postal voting centre in the Kuliyapitya (West) Zonal Education office had reportedly obtained information relating to principals and teachers who had come to cast their votes, stating that the information was necessary to complete a list as they were being invited for a festival attended by the President, The Sunday Times learns.

Police Election Secretariat DIG Gamini Navaratne said police were investigating the incidents and tough action would be taken.

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