EU to send election observers to Sri Lanka

After a gap of 10 years, the European Union (EU) has decided to send a 70-member delegation of observers to Sri Lanka for the August 17 parliamentary polls.

The observers have been drawn from 17 member-countries of the EU.

Apart from a core group of eight persons, the team has short-term and long-term observers and at least six Members of the European Parliament. Local observers, who are from the European diplomatic community in Sri Lanka, will also join the team, according to Cristian Preda, Chief Observer and a Romanian member of the European Parliament.

“We are not here to teach Sri Lanka on elections or democracy but to assist the authorities with our expertise in different areas including human rights, law and data analysis,” Mr. Preda told reporters on Tuesday.

The Chief Observer, who would leave for Jaffna on Wednesday, refused to comment on questions concerning the desirability of having an independent Election Commission before the polls.

Meanwhile, Ruwan Gunasekara, Assistant Superintendent of Police and media spokesperson, responding to a query about the receipt of poll-related complaints and arrest of persons, told The Hindu that 57 complaints had been reported and 79 individuals arrested.  Generally, the complaints pertained to offences such as assault, threat and pasting of posters in public places.  

However, Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon, Executive Director of the Campaign for Free and Fair Elections, alleges that many political parties are indulging in the misuse of the public property and his body has got 168 complaints on this count.  

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