The Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake said: "According to the number of incidents that have taken place in several areas, one can interpret this not to be a free and fair election." Local monitoring organizations had already called the election "marred to a point that it does not reflect the will of the people." The Center for Monitoring Election Violence said in an interim report on Oct. 12: "By the close of voting on election day, we have received reports of serious election violations, including instances of murder, bombing, stuffing of ballot boxes, removal of ballot boxes, systematic impersonation and ballot rigging."
The Government denies the allegations. "There were problems in a few areas," said the General Secretary of the PA, Agriculture Minister D.M. Jayaratna. About 24 hours earlier, while voting was still taking place, Jayaratna had accused his party colleague, General Anurudha Ratwatta, of electoral malpractice in Kandy, the scene of some of the worst election violence. "This is not an election [in Kandy], it is fixed," he told journalists.
The Muslim NUA is demanding that President Kumaratunga take immediate disciplinary action against those responsible for the election violence. "Many have died. Countless have been injured because of this mindless violence," the NUA's Hakeem said. "Those who have been responsible for this have got to pay for it. That is the only way in which we can restore confidence in our democratic process. Unless the Government takes action to restore its own credibility, I don't think we can support the PA. This time they have to do something concrete and substantial to prove to the country and the world that they will not sweep it under the carpet as before."
The UNP has taken advantage of the popular and political backlash against the election violence, and is holding talks with all the other parties to form a broad coalition aimed at introducing democratic reforms. "The idea emerging from democratic forces is for a democratic alliance which of course is supported by civil society, the clergy and by most of the opposition parties," said UNP chairman Karu Jayasuriya. "There is a craving or a hunger for the establishment of democracy in this country. At least to ensure that there is rule of law, depoliticazation of society, [and] depoliticization of key government institutions like the public service and the Elections Commission."
The smaller political parties are also taking advantage of their new power in making or breaking governments by haggling for the best deal. The left wing People's Liberation Front, or JVP, which won 10 seats, has already said it would not support either of the two main parties. "We will support any formation from outside on the condition that it immediately implements democratic reforms in the country," said the JVP's Wimal Weerawansa.
The small minority Tamil parties will be important components in any coalition deal. They are the Tamil United Liberation Front, which won five seats, the Tamil Eelam Liberation Front with three seats, and the Tamil Congress with one seat. They are expected to demand immediate peace talks with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or Tamil Tigers in exchange for their support.
The 18-year-long civil war between Colombo and Tamil separatist fighters in the north and east of the country has been a dark shadow over the election. The government's war and peace strategy, including rewriting the Constitution to take into account Tamil grievances, was central to the campaign.
Hanging in the Balance
Murders, bomb blast and vote-rigging marred Sri Lanka's Oct. 10 general election. Early results show a hung parliament is likely
Obituary: Sirimavo Bandaranaike, the world's first woman prime minister
The story of the once shy housewife-turned-illustrious stateswoman
'The Government Machine was Used to Rig the Poll': Web-only interview with Sri Lankan opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe
'The Two Main Parties Must End the Separatist War': Web-only interview with political analyst Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu
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