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Lukewarm response by political parties to codeof cunduct & more election violations reported

The Elections Department said yesterday the response from political parties and the media to the code of conduct was rather lukewarm. Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya said it was only the election monitors and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) who responded to the code of conduct.
“There has been no formal response from anyone else, but we have seen certain candidates change their attitude and approach to the elections after the code was released,” he said.

Election monitors said they were glad that a set of guidelines had been released.

The People’s Action for a Free and Fair Election (PAFFREL) said that even though the code of conduct was not legally binding, it did set out guidelines they hoped would be followed.

“We didn’t expect an overnight change in attitude, but there should be more prominence given to it so that the candidates will feel compelled at least to some extent to stick to the guidelines,” PAFFREL Executive Director Rohana Hettiarachchi said

Commenting on the code of conduct for the monitors, he said he had no complaints as such codes already existed for each organisation.

“We have such a code that is quite similar to the one released by the Department, so as far as we are concerned there is no change at all,” Mr. Hettiarachchi said.

The Campaign for a Free and Fair Election (CaFFE) said they disagreed with one of the clauses.

“We think seven years of political inactivity is too long a period but apart from that we have no issues with the code,” he said.

Mr. Desapriya said that any party seeking changes to the code of conduct was welcome to discuss the matter. He said it could be downloaded in all three languages from the department website www.slelections.gov.lk
Aug 18, 2012
Source: Daily Mirror – Sri Lanka

Dilan blocks Wimal’s move to distribute roofing sheets

Minister Dilan Perera who paid a surprise visit to the National Housing Development Authority Stores in Badulla yesterday stopped some 4,000 roofing sheets being loaded into a lorry to be taken to Trincomalee for distribution among voters.

 He charged that the roofing sheets were to be distributed as an inducement to garner votes for a candidate of the National Freedom Front (NFF) headed by Housing Minister Wimal Weerwansa.

 Minister Perera said the roofing sheets were to be distributed among the poor in the Badulla District.
 The NHDA comes under Minister Wimal Weerawansa and the roofing sheets were to be taken to Trincomalee on the instructions of the NHDA Chairman.
 Minister Perera said he had lodged a complaint to the Elections Commissioner as it was a violation of election law.

 Minister Weerwansa had fielded candidates from the NFF for the Eastern Provincial Council election from the Trincomalee District because party did not receive any slots on the UPFA ticket. 
Palitha Ariyawansa

JVP accuses govt. of failing to take action

The JVP yesterday charged that the government had failed to take action against former North Central Province Chief Minister Bertie Premalal Dissanayake and a another ruling party candidate for the province named Sumathipala, even though an investigation conducted by the Presidential Investigation Unit (PIU) had found them responsible for several malpractices involving millions of rupees of Provincial Council funds.
JVP Parliamentary Group Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake citing the PIU report stated that the duo had been found to have committed malpractice to the tune of Rs. 110 million. This he said involved Rs. 78 million spent for the reconstruction of 63 tanks in the North Central Province.

Further quoting the PIU report Dissanayake said Rs. 78 million had been paid to a company that was supposed to have supplied equipment for the reconstruction of 63 tanks. However, during the investigations the said company had confirmed that it was never involved in supplying equipment to the North Central Provincial Council.

It was also revealed that the Chief Minister had failed to pay the hiring charges of a bulldozer he had used for construction work in a land owned by himself at Epalogama.

Citing another allegation he said millions had been paid to a company for supplying school equipment but that company had also confirmed it had not supplied any such equipment.

According to Dissanayake the investigations had also revealed that the chairman of the construction agency of the North Central Provincial Council, also a ruling UPFA candidate, was not fit be in the said post as he had not even passed the GCE Ordinary Level examination. It was further revealed that this candidate had been charged in courts for the theft of some sleepers and railway tracks.
Aug 18, 2012
Source: Daily Mirror – Sri Lanka

Police to seize state-owned vehicles used for propaganda activity

Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya has instructed the police to immediately seize state owned vehicles used by the candidates for their propaganda activities for the upcoming provincial council elections.

Additional Elections Commissioner R.M.A.L. Ratnayaka stated that there have been complaints on the use of state-owned vehicles by the candidates for propaganda activities in certain areas where the elections will be held.

He went on to say that these complaints have been received from Kegalle, Anuradhapura and Ratnapura

The Additional Elections Commissioner added that the United National Party has complained in this
 regard to the Elections Commissioner yesterday.

Accordingly, the state-owned vehicles are to be seized by the police and placed under the general secretaries of the provincial councils.

The Elections Secretariat said that the general secretaries of the provinces have also been issued
 instructions in this regard.

Severe battle between Hakeem – Athaulla on Akkaraipattu votes

It is reported two Cabinet Minsiters of the Government, Justice Minister Rauf Hakeem and Local Government Minister A L M Athaulla are engaged in a severe battle targeting Eastern Province election in Akkaraipattu, Ampara District.

Sources indicate Minister Athaulla has forbidden Akkaraipattu area for Minister Hakeem and Sri Lanka Muslim Congress supporters.

The religious leaders in the District advice that the two Ministers and the former Municipal Member Mr Asad Ali should put to an end to the speeches made on race and religion which may again lead to the worst situation that prevailed for 30 years.

The religious leaders say that the President and the Government ignore these statements by the Ministers.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Watchdogs cite rampant election malpractice

Nearly 168 election related incidents of violence, most of them committed by the ruling UPFA have been reported from the three provinces in which elections will be held on September 8, Network for Election Monitoring of the Intellectuals of Human Rights (NEM IHR) sources said.
The three provinces; Sabaragamuwa, North-Central and Eastern Provincial Councils are already beset with many malpractices, they stated.
 NEM IHR stated that 11 election violence cases, 52 unlawful propaganda issues, 24 instances of misuse of state properties by the UPFA, 12 instances of use of state power by the UPFA for election campaign and five cases of undue influence for public opinion, have been recorded.
NEM IHR observes an increase of incidents reported compared to the first week after nominations were received. Unlawful propaganda campaigns are common in all three provinces and UPFA candidates have launched massive poster and cutout campaigns compared to the opposition political parties.
Under the prevailing conditions a free and fair election cannot be expected in these provinces and the situation in the country is similar to all elections held after 2005 that have been monitored by NEM IHR, they said.



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