Election observers make recommendations

[TamilNet, Saturday, 25 December 1999, 08:41 GMT]
The International Observers Group which monitored Sri Lanka's Presidential election held last Tuesday, has submitted fifteen recommendations to the government to ensure a free and fair poll in future. The IOG tabled its report, at a press conference held Friday in Colombo's Hilton Hotel. Specific recommendations were made with regards to elections in Jaffna.

"We recommend that an Independent multi-member Election Commission with full financial autonomy be appointed by a nominating committee consisting of the President, the Leader of the Opposition and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. One of the Commission members should have judicial experience " said Prof.Lord Desai the Chairman of the IOG to the press yesterday.

Other fourteen recommendations are:

  • 1. The Election Commission should review the Voter Card system which has caused problems in some districts.
  • 2. There was concern among some observers about the role of the police. It was felt that closer communications between the officers at the polling stations and police HG would be helpful There should be a police presence in the vicinity of the polling booth. The Police should maintain order within the polling stations at voting.

  • 3. Police officers ( DIGs,SSPs) should be required to report incidents during election time promptly to the District Secretary and go by his advice on the action required as well as on the disposition and deployment of forces.

  • 4. The quality of the indelible ink should be reviewed.

  • 5. The media funded by State should be required to give balanced and fair coverage to the view point of all parties and their candidates, as well as news and events concerning them to avoid being viewed as the propagande organ of the party in power.

  • 6. The Election Commission and the Press Council should introduce a Code of Conduct both for the State owned and the privately owned sound and print media.

  • 7. A transparent limit should be determined for election expenses by candidates and by political parties.

  • 8. The Group noted that the law on the removal of posters was not enforced and recommends that consideration should be given to the relevance of the law.

  • 9. The Group recommends that for future IOGs a better gender balance should be aimed at.

  • 10.The Group recommends that government employees should not act as agents of political parties during a poll.

  • 11. The National Consultation Committee on Election may be encouraged to act more efectively in collaboration with the Election Commission in resolving law and order and other campaign related issues in order to help conduct a free and fair election. Similar committees should be encouraged to function at the local level in collaboration with the Returning Officer.

  • 12. It is prudent to make it a requirement to have all counting agents sign all certifying documents at the end of the count.

  • 13. There should be Code of Conduct or Ethics for all political parties and candidates from the time of notification of the election.

  • 14. To secure the integrity of the ballot papers a distinct seal instead of a simple perforation should be provided at each polling station and each ballot paper stamped at the time of issue to the voter.

    The IOG has made the following specific recommendations for the Jaffna district in its report:

  • 1. The Register of voters should be updated at the same time as the register of other districts.

  • 2. Polling stations should be clearly numbered and directions clearly given. Additional polling stations should be provided.

  • 3. International observers and their liaison officers/interpreters must be admitted unimpeded to the polling stations.

     

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