CAFFE: East elections "not Free and Fair"

[TamilNet, Thursday, 29 May 2008, 01:12 GMT]
Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CAFFE), an election monitoring organization accredited under the Election Commissioner, in the final report issued this week said that during the 10 May elections the dominance of violence overtook the dominance of rule of law, and there were "gross violations of election rules," leading the CAFFE to observe that the eastern Provincial Elections were "not at all free and fair."

CAFFE said its 622 observers covered nearly 80% of the total of 1070 polling stations during the elections with the primary mission "to identify incidents involving the violation of electoral law and further, to determine whether there was a conducive atmosphere to cast the vote in a free and fair manner."

Caffe noted that the pre-election violence dramatically increased as the elections approached, and that although the incidents were reported to the Police stations in the appropriate jurisdictions the incidents were "not subjected to a proper investigation and perpetrators were never brought to justice."

"The other conspicuous factor in this context was that in some instances, the aggrieved parties were reluctant to report atrocities and present those violations on to the public domain. Also it was observed that in some instances, aggrieved political parties were subjected to intimidation andviolence and attempts were made to conceal such incidents due to unknown factors," the report said.

CAFFE also accused the Government of initiating "several artificially- constructed and politically manipulated development projects under the pretext of development but which were geared towards mainly influencing the minds of the voters."

During elections "[t]he most frequent violations were observed in the election time intimidation (direct/indirect) used by various parties to influence the average voter of the Eastern Province. Such intimidation was further extended by direct and indirect violence and threats," the report said.

CAFFE reported listed details of incidents of assault, intimidation, polling booth agent obstructions, and impersonation and vote stuffing in different districts.

Although the incidents were reported to the relevant officials and police stations, in most cases they were totally disregarded and no action was taken against the perpetrators, the report said.

Alleging "political bias" of election officials, CAFFE stressed the importance of "independent government services to function under the times of elections to reduce the malpractices," and pointed to absence of an independent "Election Commission" as one of the main causes of the flawed election.

 

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