Sri Lanka: Election Irregularities

Indrajit Samarajiva at comments that with the presence of election monitors and somewhat independent election commission, rigging elections in Sri Lanka is tough. However: “the main method of influencing elections is intimidation, and that’s what’s going on.” Read his reports on explosions in Jaffna and irregularities in Batticaloa.

1 comment

  • vssubramaniam

    Rajapakse outclasses Kazai in the much abused presidential elections
    The hype after release of Kazai (2009) election results led to an outcry over the electoral abuses and a run-off ballot. A third of Kazai’s votes were invalidated by a ‘U.N. backed Electoral Commission based on ‘clear and convincing ‘evidence of fraud’ in the elections.
    Unlike Kazai, Rajapakse’s reputed tight iron curtain ensured that ‘evidence of fraud’ was covered up that detection and leaks of information on electoral frauds were impossible. Embedded Sinhala chauvinism in Sri Lanka (SL) did contribute to Rajapakse’s voting strength, but electoral fraud and other mal-practices also played a major part in Rajapakse’s much boasted ‘…mandate’. The US embassy congratulated Rajapakse on his victory and also called for “’a thorough investigation of the (fraud) allegations’. SL’s observance of democratic norms is in such a pitiable state that attempts to seek redress for electoral abuses are exercises in futility.
    Yet public interest calls for such blatant electoral rigging are exposed. A 4.17 million valid votes would have delivered Sarath a win in a credible fraud free election. Opinion polls despite their faults allow for a margin of error of +/- 5 per cent not 44 per cent deviation from forecast; excessive statically to require impartial investigation.
    In Afghanistan despite the presence of election observers in sufficient strength (unlike in SL) Kazai fraudulently boosted his total votes by over 33 per cent. Rajapakses’ using this tool gained more estimated at 44 per cent. Adjusted for this Sarath would have won by 1.5 million. Extensive ballot stuffing apparently occurred in the news blackout days just preceding the announcement of the official results. One conclusion is certain; Rajapakse’s win was not boosted by normal increases of total votes polled or an increase in voter participation rate.
    The Rajapakse rushed the elections to take full advantage of the mechanism he had in place to use ballot rigging to guarantee his victory. Only 18 per cent of the virtually disenfranchised (polling cards not delivered and public transport suspended that those with polling cards do not go to the polling booths) Tamils voted. The climate of fear (white vans, disappearances, arrests) affected both the Tamils and Sinhalese voters and the explosions on the morning of election day despite the heavy presence of the security forces (dotting every few meters in the North) in such strength had only one objective; to frighten away anti-Rajapakse voters. Loyal bureaucrats manned the counting stations that allowed extensive ballot stuffing to go undetected. Vote stuffing on this scale effectively also disenfranchised the Sinhalese themselves.
    For the Tamils no longer stake holders in SL, elections or no elections with or without rigging are inconsequential. They only need to nurture a culture of self reliance to safeguard their lives and their life supporting assets.

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