Sri Lanka will invite foreign monitors for polls
Sri Lanka today said it will invite foreign monitors but will not call UN personnel for the upcoming presidential elections in January.
Colombo: Sri Lanka today said it will invite foreign monitors but will not call UN personnel for the upcoming presidential elections in January.
Election Commisioner Mahinda Deshapriya said he will be inviting EU monitors as well but not UN monitors as he feels they will not be required to monitor the polls.
Speaking to reporters, the Elections Commissioner said that usually election monitors from Asia, the EU and the Commonwealth are invited for a major election.
Deshapriya said that UN monitors are invited only if an election is being held for the first time or if there are serious concerns on the electoral process.
In the view of the Elections Commissioner there is no serious concern on the elections system in Sri Lanka and so UN monitors will not be required, he said.
The Commonwealth monitors presence will be significant as Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is the government candidate is the current Chair of the 54 nation Commonwealth. Rajapaksa is pitted against his former Health Minister, Maithripala Sirisena who is backed by the opposition groups as their common candidate.
The elections office also announced dates for postal voting, 23 and 24 December for the election to be held on January 8.
People's Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL), the leading local election watchdog said they have plans to deploy international observers both in the run up to and on the polling day. They expect the presence of international observers would minimize the possibility of a violent polls day.
Deshapriya also said he had asked police to bring to justice those responsible for two shooting incidents since Friday, involving government supporters and backers of the main opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena.
"I have asked police about these incidents, I have told them to take action against offenders. I seek the cooperation of political parties to ensure a trouble-free election. It is also the responsibility of candidates to restraint their supporters", he said.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa last week called for snap polls, seeking a record third six-year term. He narrowly won elections in 2005. Six years later, he and his party clinched an overwhelming victory, after his government's success in defeating the LTTE in 2009, ending more than a quarter century of civil war.