Election complaints mount, but mostly of frivolous nature


By Dasun Edirisinghe

The Election Department and local election monitoring organization, Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) yesterday said that there was a spike in violations as election got closer.

Elections Chief Mahinda Deshapriya said that candidates were complaining even if one of their rivals gave a rough look, but all of them were not real violence.

However the Elections Department has received 867 complaints from the two provinces, especially after it set up a complaint centre.

According to the statistics of the centre, 265 complaints have been received from the Colombo District, while 105 and 117 have been received from the Gampaha and Kalutara Districts respectively.

There were 25 complaints common to all three districts in the Western Province.

The least amount of complaints 89 have been received by the Department from the Hambantota District. It has received 140 complaints from the Matara District and 92 from the Galle District, while 13 complaints were common to all three districts.

There were 21 complaints common for Western and Southern Provinces, according to the complaints centre.

It said that there were 30 violent incidents and 837 election law violations included in the total number of complaints. 

CaFFE chief Keerthi Tennakoon said that his organisation had received 916 election related complaints by March 21.

"This is an extremely high number considering that elections are only held in two provinces," he said adding that the highest number of complaints 551had been received from the Western Province, while 344 complaints had been received from the Southern Province.

CaFFE had also received 44 complaints of election related violence- 24 from Colombo District and ten each from Hambantota and Kalutara Districts, Tennakoon said.

He said that CaFFE was extremely concerned about the high number of misuse of public property, 345 which amounted to 38% of the total complaints. Fifty four per cent of the complaints numbering 483 related to illegal election propaganda. 

CaFFE has also observed an intensification of election related violence, the observer said.

"Last week a number of attacks on election offices as well as assaults were reported," Tennakoon said adding that candidates from Hambantota and Galle who were directly involved in election violence were arrested and released during last week.

CaFFE urged election officials and the police to implement election laws as the election got nearer to prevent a hike in election law violations.

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