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Election monitors gearing up for poll

The five-member commonwealth expert team which arrived in Colombo on Tuesday to observe the January 26 Presidential election will send teams to the refugee camps in Vavuniya and also keep track of pre and post-poll incidence of violence.

world Updated: Jan 20, 2010 22:58 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

The five-member commonwealth expert team (CET) which arrived in Colombo on Tuesday to observe the January 26 Presidential election will send teams to the refugee camps in Vavuniya and also keep track of pre and post-poll incidence of violence.

Sources told HT that the team, which includes the chief electoral officer of Andhra Pradesh, IV Subba Rao, has already been apprised of possible poll-related violence in east, south and Colombo regions.

``The final itinerary will be firmed up on Thursday. On the day of the election, CET teams will probably be in Jaffna and Vavuniya, Batticaloa and Hambantota among other areas. The team members will be divided and will begin moving out (from Colombo) on January 24 and return on January 28,’’ sources said. The members will meet local area officials on January 24 and 25 in the run-up to the election.

The expert team is being led by former Jamaican foreign minister K D Knight.

The other three members are Cynthia Barrow-Giles, lecturer in political science (University of the West Indies, Barbados), lawyer Jane Michuki from Kenya and Tim Neale, a media expert from UK.

Sources added that the five members are lined up to meet members of political parties, civil society, domestic election observers like the PAFFREL and CAFFE in the next few days. They are waiting for an appointment with the DIG elections.

The group’s mandate is to “assess the overall conduct of the electoral process and the environment in which the election is conducted, according to the standards for democratic elections to which the country has committed itself, with reference to national election-related legislation and relevant regional, Commonwealth and other international commitments”.

The group’s report will be submitted to the Commonwealth secretary general who in turn will submit to the Lankan government, the election department, political parties and eventually to all commonwealth governments.

Meanwhile, a Canadian funding contribution of approximately LKR 16.35 million is underwriting the CET visit.

The Canadian contribution, through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), comes from a total grant of up to $2.5 million to support the Commonwealth Secretariat’s election observation activities during 2010-12.