Defeated Presidential candidate and former army chief Sarath Fonseka on Tuesday filed an election petition in the Supreme Court asking for a cancellation of the January 26 election result.
Fonseka petitioned the Court to order a scrutiny of all the ballots cast at in the election, to be carried out by Commissioner of Elections and his staff in his presence and in the presence of other 21 candidates or their authorised representatives. Fonseka, currently in military custody, said in the petition that voters were intimidated and the election agents were bribed among other things to ensure that the majority were prevented from electing the candidate they preferred.
``Petitioner alleged that there was general bribery committed in connection with the election of Mahinda Rajapaksa or with his knowledge or consent or by his agents. These acts of bribery took place between November 23, 2009 and January 26, 2010(date of election),’’ the petition said.
Rajapaksa won the election by a margin of over 1.8 million votes. Fonseka’s petition was filed even as Commonwealth Secretariat – which had sent a team of international observers to monitor the election -- said on Tuesday that it was generally
well-administered but there were several aspects of it which did not meet the benchmarks for democratic election.
"Even though on the day of the election voters were free to express their will, shortcomings primarily in the pre-election period meant that overall the 2010 Presidential elections in Sri Lanka did not fully meet key benchmarks for democratic elections,’’ the Commonwealth Expert Team said in its final report.
The team noted: ``there is a compromised pre-election environment, including the election management body being unable to fully ensure respect for the rule of law; a failure of some state institutions to respect legal provisions and guidelines, resulting in an abuse of state resources and a failure by state media to meet its legal and moral responsibilities; and, incidences of violence.’’
The report has been sent to the Sri Lankan government and also to the member states of the Commonwealth.