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EU mission reports SL polls tainted

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A supporter of Gotabaya Rajapaksa cheers along the street in Colombo, Sri Lanka

The Chief Observer of the EU EOM to Sri Lanka, Marisa Matias, presented the report and recommendations at a media briefing here on Friday.

Mahinda Rajapaksa (L) and his brother, Gotabaya Rajapaksa. (Photo by Ajith Perera/Xinhua/IANS)

The European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) has presented its final report on Sri Lanka’s November 16, 2019 presidential election in which it raised concerns on the absence of a law on campaign finance, disinformation and biased election coverage by private and state media.

The Chief Observer of the EU EOM to Sri Lanka, Marisa Matias, presented the report and recommendations at a media briefing here on Friday, media reported.

The report offers a comprehensive assessment of all aspects of the election.

The EU EOM offered 23 recommendations for improving the framework for elections based on its observations, analysis and extensive discussion with a range of national stakeholders.

“An electoral process well managed by the Election Commission and a peaceful campaign on the ground contrasted with divisive rhetoric, hate speech and disinformation in traditional and social media,” Matias said at the breifing.

“The absence of a law on campaign finance and the biased election coverage by private and state media contributed to an uneven playing field and limited the opportunity for most candidates to convey their message.”

New Delhi: Newly-elected Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa arrives at Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi on Nov 28, 2019. Also seen Union Minister General VK Singh. (Photo: IANS) by .
Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa (Photo: IANS)

Sri Lanka was also urged to adopt a law on campaign finance and campaign expenditure.

The EU EOM said the law should include clear provisions on timely disclosure before and after elections, oversight, sanctions and enforcement.

The island nation was also urged to adopt special measures as anticipated by the Constitution to remove barriers and promote equal participation of women in public and political life.

The EU EOM was deployed to Sri Lanka from October 11 to December 12, 2019 with 30 long-term and 30 short-term observers from 27 EU member states, Norway and Switzerland.

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