Poll monitors call of urgent campaign finance reforms


By Rathindra Kuruwita

Noting that Saturday’s election was held in a peaceful manner, election monitors on Sunday urged the government to immediately introduce campaign finance laws to ensure that affluent candidates will not be able to bribe voters in coming elections.

Executive Director of People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) Rohana Hettiarachchi said that Saturday’s local council election was one of the most peaceful elections in recent years.

"Everyone did a lot to make this a success. From the Elections Commission to political parties. We must remember that over 50,000 candidates contested the election and the overwhelming majority of the candidates adhered to election laws. However there was one concern. There were many attempts to bribe people and this is why we need to have an upper ceiling on what candidates can spend. This is why we need campaign finance laws. This needs to be implemented before the next election," he said.

Meanwhile Director of the Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon said it was the first time that a government in power lost a local council election. He added that the post election period had been peaceful with only a few minor incidents. However there were a large number of attempts to influence voters by candidates but it had little impact on the outcome of the poll.

Meanwhile National Coordinator of the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV), Manjula Gajanayake also reiterated the need for immediate campaign finance laws. "We have received information that a number of candidates spent exorbitant amounts of money to influence voters. We need to ensure that there are campaign finance laws to ensure this does not happen," he said.

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