PAFFREL report on Akuressa election

Mar 9 (InfoLanka) The People's Action For Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) have received nine complaints of election related violence up to Wednesday. These include two cases of arson, which are considered to be grave violations of electoral peace.

Executive Director of PAFFREL Kingsley Rodrigo in a statement issued yesterday stated that, " “One important factor that has led to this situation is the campaign by persons who are not members seeking election. This appears to be a challenge to the entire electoral process. We have already made representations to the Commissioner of Elections, Inspector General of Police, all political parties and the returning officer of the relevant polling district."

"We urge all to create the necessary environment to conduct at least this election as a free and fair one. If not, this election may become a cogent factor to further erode public faith in elections," the statement said.

"Canvassing campaigns seem to have developed into a triangular battle now, among the PA, JVP and Bhumiputra party. A majority of the acts are against the JVP," the statement said.

The delivery of poll cards had been completed by March 3rd, 2003 and arrangements have been made to get the cards of voters who have not received direct from the post offices. "Up to now no complaints have been received by us regarding the delivery of poll cards. The postal voting that took place on February 27th and 28th was free and fair and no acts of violence have been reported to us," PAFFREL stated.

According to the statement an unusual phenomenon observed is the display of posters, banners and cutouts with the UNP colour with the candidate numbers of the Bhumiputra party and its symbol Aeroplane, by some UNP candidates whose nominations were rejected.

"These candidates are making an attempt to show the success of the Liberal-UNP pact during the Ratnapura Pradeshiya Sabha election as a precedent. However the Bhumiputra party has vehemently rejected this. This whole episode could be described as subjecting the present election laws and procedures to ridicule. The Commissioner of Elections who had come to know about this had instructed the police to see that election laws are upheld," the statement said.

The statement adds that despite police acting with special interest to see that law and order prevailed, it had not been possible to prevent acts of certain persons who are not candidates.