LG election peaceful - Watchdog groups

Election watchdog groups on Saturday observed that the Local Government Election was one of the most peaceful witnessed in the country for decades.

Executive Director of Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE), Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon said that out of the 597 incidents reported during the election period, none of them were major election-related violations. Therefore, the scale and gravity of election law violations are very low compared to previous elections.

“We should commend the attempts made by the Election Commission and the law enforcement authorities to conduct a free and fair election. It is also glad to note the voters had also adhered to the guidelines given by the Election Commission by making their commitment to conduct a peaceful election countrywide. Generally, a peaceful environment prevailed throughout the election period,” he said.

According to Head of Operations at the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV), Manjula Gajanayake the election was one of the most free, fair and peaceful elections after decades with the voters appearing enthusiastic to vote.

“The peaceful nature of the elections is owed in part to the Police who acted without any political influence with many election law violators being arrested during the polling period. He also noted that no incidents of military intimidation were reported in the Northern and the Eastern Provinces.

The CMEV had posted monitoring officers in around 1,000 polling stations while 100 mobile units were deployed.

Gajanayake said the organization had received 95 complaints on Saturday among which 17 were serious incidents. “However, these did not include any assaults or hospitalizations and added that several threats made by politicians were reported.

People’s Action for Free and Fair Election (PAFFREL), Executive Director Rohana Hettiarachchi said no serious incidents were reported during the polling period while the situation remained largely peaceful.

According to him, three assaults from Kegalle and Puttalam were reported along with two incidents of damage being caused to vehicles. A majority of the incidents were regarding canvassing for votes on election day, he said. PAFFREL had received complaints relating to 180 incidents during the voting period on Saturday. Of them, 20 were reported as violent incidents.

PAFFREL had deployed 4,000 monitoring officers for the LG elections along with 280 mobile monitoring units.