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Democracy Continues, Sri Lanka Style...
Presidential Election 1999 - Free & Fair?
"In the run-up to the presidential elections since nominations on 16 November and during elections, over 1,590 violent incidents were reported despite the deployment of 75,000 police and 25,000 troops. This included 54 murders, 30 attempted murders, arson, injury and damage to property.
According to election monitoring agency, the People�s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL), 900 complaints of election violations were received. The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) says that in 59 of the 161 electoral divisions, the results had been irredeemably compromised by systematic impersonation, ballot stuffing, violence, intimidation of voters and abuse of state machinery and resources.
A circular letter from the Youth Affairs minister had required all Samurthi (poverty alleviation programme) workers to participate in the election campaign of the ruling People�s Alliance.
The CMEV adds that the entire election in the north-east province should be nullified as the minimum conditions to ensure free and fair vote were unavailable. According to the Colombo agency, 200 polling centres in the north-east were removed from the poll without warning or adequate alternative arrangement.
Throughout the election campaign, the government and the government-controlled media had been hostile to the election monitoring agencies. Reports say that the state�s External Resources Agency blocked funding by the Asia Foundation to CMEV for election monitoring. Lord Meghnad Desai, the leader of observers from Commonwealth nations said on 24 December that the election was free and fair. But the team also submitted 18 recommendations for conducting free and fair elections in the future. These include the appointment of an independent Elections Commissioner." - British Refugee Council publication Sri Lanka Monitor - December 1999