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EU begins deploying observers to monitor Sri Lanka parliamentary poll

ECONOMYNEXT – The European Union said it will deploy an observer mission of up 70 people to monitor Sri Lanka’s parliamentary elections on August 17, its first mission in a decade.

Chief Observer Cristian Preda, a Member of the European Parliament, said they will deploy observers throughout the island in all provinces starting from Wednesday to observe the election campaign as well as the polls and vote counting process.

“We hope that the people of Sri Lana will show through the ballot box that they will take another step to strengthen democracy,” he told a news conference.

“We hope the climate will be a good one, without violence and the election campaign done in a civilised manner.”

Elections in the island are usually marred by violence with the January presidential poll being a notable exception.

The parliamentary polls were called after parliament was dissolved by President Maithripala Sirisena, who in the January presidential poll ousted Mahinda Rajapaksa, whose near 10-year reign was marred by allegations of authoritarianism and corruption.

Rajapaksa, against whom the new government has initiated corruption probes, himself is contesting in the general elections as an ordinary candidate with hopes of becoming prime minister.

Preda said the EU election observers will monitor the election campaign and talk to candidates from all parties, government officials, civil society organisations and the media.

“We will observe the legal framework, voter and candidate registration, respect for civil and political rights and the performance of the media,” he said.

(Colombo/July 201 2015)





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