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EU election observers call for campaign finance & expenditure laws

ECONOMYNEXT – Presenting its final report on Sri Lanka’s recent presidential election, the European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) last week called for campaign finance and campaign expenditure legislation for future elections.

Speaking to reporters in Colombo last Friday (January 24), the EU’s chief election observer Maria Matias commended the Elections Commission (EC) for its “credible and professional work”.

“The electoral process was well managed by the EC, and we noted that campaigning on the ground was peaceful and the atmosphere calm despite a small number of violent incidents,” said Matias.

“However, the absence of a law on campaign finance and the biased election coverage by private and state media contributed to an uneven playing field and limited the opportunity for most candidates to convey their message,” she added.

Matias further stressed on the need to adopt effective measures to tackle the low level of women’s participation in politics, noting that only a few women were appointed as senior officers to manage the election process.

Among the other recommendations was to revise the Presidential Elections Act to remove ambiguity, harmonise terminology with most recent laws and avoid the potential for conflicting interpretations.

“Sri Lanka should also enact legislation to strengthen capacity and procedures in line with the EC’s mandate. The law should empower EC to issue, in a timely manner, binding regulatory instruments with clear provisions for enforcement, and to develop and codify internal procedures,” said Matias. (Colombo/Jan27/2020)

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