There is a peaceful atmosphere conducive to conducting a poll in Batticaloa, foreign elections observers said yesterday.
`This the third election we monitor with the People`s Action For Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) and we received very easy and absolute access to all stakeholders of Local Government Elections, 2008, Batticaloa district.
There is excellent protection for all areas,` said Bernard O` Sullivan, Deputy Director, Non-violent Peaceforce an International Monitoring Mission attached to PAFFREL.
Addressing a press briefing held at the National Library and Documentation Services Board Auditorium yesterday he said they have already deployed four monitors from Germany, U.S, Uganda and Kenya in the Batticaloa district. `We visited homes and all the other places in the East,` he added.
PAFFREL Chairman Kingsley Rodrigo said that elections should be held to protect and strengthen democracy. Not holding elections poses a direct threat to democracy. It will be very undemocratic if this election does not take place because the LTTE boycotts it. The whole world is keeping an eye on this small election, he said.
PAFFREL monitors this election with the objective of strengthening democracy.
Since January 25, only 18 incidents of violence have been reported to the police and the majority of them are minor incidents. There are four violent attempts, one abduction and one incident of arson. All the complains are not genuine. The amount of violence is very low even below the average level of violence reported during elections.
`The TMVP coming into the democratic political process and taking part in the election is a very positive sign. Sri Lanka can show very good similar example from the past,` he said.
More people will be deployed for the safety of polling stations and ballot boxes. Since the TMVP does not have any prior experience in elections the PAFFREL has offered training for them. The police have already provided required protection for all the candidates who requested security.
Explaining the current situation in the Batticaloa district Dr. Nimal Gunatilleke said all public officers are fully committed to their services and the TMVP is deeply committed to the transformation now taking place in the East.
Some of the TMVP members are former child soldiers recruited by the LTTE. They have no prior experience in actively taking part in an election campaigns. But they are fully committed. Only 200 out of 831 candidates had requested police protection.
The monitoring process of PAFFREL includes three stage-viz. pre-election period and post-election period. Under the pre-election part at present six international monitors are engaged in monitoring activities in nine Local Authority areas in three groups. PAFFREL expects to deploy 20 international monitors and local mobile monitors closer to the day of the election.