Elections Commissioner should not depend on Armed Security Forces to arrange voting for flood victims, says the United Socialist Party Presidential Candidate – Siritunga Jayasuriya.
Issuing a statement Jayasuriya calls upon the EC to refrain from making unilateral decisions on facilitating polling for the flood affected and appeals to the EC to immediately call upon all candidates along with District Secretaries in affected areas to discuss the most appropriate way, the flood victims could be allowed their right to vote.
We publish below the statement in full;
EC should not depend on Armed Security Forces to arrange voting for flood victims
Addressing the media on 30 December (2014) Election Commissioner (EC) Mahinda Deshapriya was reported as having said he would have ballot boxes delivered to refugee camps for flood victims to vote, if the situation so demands by 08 January, 2015. He had also said, he would request the assistance of Armed forces for such logistics.
The issue of providing facilities for flood victims to vote on 08 January, should not be taken on face value and on such simple terms.
Over 01 million people, or about 200,000 families have been affected across North Central Province, Vanni and the Eastern province. Not all were able to reach safe places and some were rescued by the navy and airforce emergency operations. Completely uprooted from life, these families with infants and children too, have lost all or most of their life savings, their belongings and in most cases, livelihood too. They will need continued relief for at least another one month, before they could get on their feet. These are all people who live with insecurity, stress and trauma. They cannot be expected to vote, just because the floods have receded. They have to be given the opportunity to first settle in their homes, before they could be asked to vote.
That said, let us also stress that this Rajapaksa regime did not allow any outside relief for the affected people, keeping them firmly under security forces. All refugee camps were brought under military control. In fact the Rajapaksa regime refused to accept relief even from the UNDP, as they did not wish to have civilians helping in refugee camps. It is in such context, the EC is talking of sending ballot boxes to refugee camps through security forces.
It must be understood,
1. The Ministry of Defence with Gotabaya Rajapaksa as its ministry secretary is a heavily politicised ministry where, Gotabaya Rajapaksa enjoys the right to intervene in politics.
2. EC Deshapriya therefore may have no control over balloting in refugee camps with all related work taken over by the MoD. People who are stressed out and frustrated in refugee camps will not be in a mental frame to exercise their franchise independently, living under military control
3. Therefore, it is not right and not feasible to organise free and independent voting in refugee camps in the days to come.
I therefore call upon the EC to refrain from making unilateral decisions on facilitating polling for the flood affected and appeal to the EC to immediately call upon all candidates along with District Secretaries in affected areas to discuss the most appropriate way, the flood victims could be allowed their right to vote.
USP Presidential Candidate