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Sunday, 6 November 2005  
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New body to monitor elections

A new body to ensure democracy in the country has been formed under the name of the Centre for Monitoring Free and Fair Elections and Democratic Rights (CMFFEDR).

CMFFEDRA Director Chandrasiri de Silva said that the body was set up after a research on the election violence and other acts detrimental to democracy and they expect to work to ensure democracy and protect the rights of the people.

He said over two million expatriates, many of them are blue collar workers have been denied voting rights under the present system and the CMFFEDR is going to canvass support for their voting rights with the relevant authorities.

Similarly, the CMFFEDR expects to intervene in the issues of election rigging and eliminating the preferential voting system. Preferential voting system has now proved a major cause of violence during elections.

Among the other objectives of the CMFFEDR are: To monitor the elections, to safeguard the franchised and the other norms of the democratic rights of the people, to ensure free, fair and balanced media coverage to all candidates during the elections, to educate the people about their democratic rights and their rights to have free and fair elections, to monitor, record and report election related corruption, malpractice, violence, misuse of state property and to appeal to both local and international authorities together with recommendations and proposals to prevent such activities in future elections.

As far as elections are concerned, we firmly believe that the true will of the people must find expression and we on our part shall endeavour to see that this goal is achieved, de Silva said.

We are concerned about unfair political influence in the implementation of the legal framework for elections. In this regard it is our contention that irrespective of political affiliations rule of law should prevail at all levels. We will not hesitate to condemn the libelous and slanderous campaigns of the political parties and we shall take action to report them to relevant authorities, he said.

The CMFFEDR is also concerned about the election law which only embraces state media and exclude private media, when the media violates election laws there is no mechanism for enforcement of law. The declaration assets of candidates do not reach the public and the law relating to expenses of candidates are implemented in a meaningless manner.

Usage of identity card can eliminate any malpractice while the usage of the electronic poll cards and electronic voting could reduce massive burden of expenditure on the state, de Silva added.

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