Election was a mockery - CMEV

[TamilNet, Thursday, 25 February 1999, 19:14 GMT]
The North-western Provincial council election was a "a mockery of the democratic process", said the election monitoring group, the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) at a press conference held today in the National Library auditorium in Colombo.

The level of pre-election violence was "greater in magnitude and quantity than on any similar occasion in an analogous non-conflict context," said the CMEV.

pc_election_2_250199.jpg
S.Ratnayake, officer in charge of the Mawatagame Maha Vidyalaya polling center is surounded by the police after it was attacked and ballot boxes were stuffed by a gang in Kurunegala. photo-AP
In a statement issued at the conference the monitoring body blamed the ruling People's Alliance party for the majority of the 1557 pre - election violent incidents and 662 election day violent incidents.

"The People's Alliance was allegedly responsible for 45.25% of all campaign related incidents and 59.51% of violations on election day, while the UNP was allegedly culpable for 22.56% and 9.9% respectively. If one considers the incidents in which the perpetrator has been allegedly identified, the PA share of violations becomes 65.9% and 85.09% respectively," said the statement.

The whole process had been "irrevocably flawed," said the CMEV adding that election fraud was observed in 25% of the 1160 polling centres.

"According to the Election Commissioner's own admission, 212 (out of a total of 1160) polling centres were compromised through the forcible stuffing of ballot boxes by armed groups. CMEV eye witness accounts from 74 other polling centres which were equally unacceptable brings the tally to 25% or one- fourth of the total," said the press statement.

The statement adds that although the Election Commissioner admitted 212 ballot boxes had been stuffed "he cancelled only 09 polling centres where ballot boxes had been physically destroyed."

The CMEV dismissed as "untenable" the official view that the overall result would not have been affected by the removal of ballot boxes saying "given the Preferential voting System, each vote counts uniquely."

The statement went on to point out that in many electorates where a majority of polling stations had been affected by fraud the voter turn out was higher than average suggesting that many of the votes that had been counted were illegal.

"For instance, in the Mawathagama electorate where a total of 32 out of 55 polling stations (or 58.18) were fundamentally flawed, the voter turn out is 81.17% polling or 2.5% higher than the average for the Kurunagala District. It is incontestable that voter turn out declines wherever there is significant violence. Hence, this anomaly must mean that a large number of illegal votes have not been rejected," said the CMEV statement.

The CMEV added that it was disturbed by the "re-emergence of extended post-election violence" that had led to 3 deaths.


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