New Delhi, Nov 19: The Commonwealth Observer Group has commended the people of Sri Lanka on a largely peaceful, credible and orderly Presidential election, but expressed concern that some groups experienced fear and intimidation in the exercise of franchise in which right-of-centre candidate Gotabaya Rajapakse emerged a clear winner.
In a statement here, the Group stressed that a credible election must be inclusive, guaranteeing every citizen’s right to participate freely and safely in the process. The delegation encouraged the people and leaders of Sri Lanka to improve on inclusivity in future elections.
The Sri Lanka Freedom Party nominee, Mr Gotabaya Rajapakse, is the brother of former President Mahinda Rajapakse, accused of genocide of Tamils in May 2009 during the final phase of the ethnic war. Sri Lanka’s rich cultural and religious diversity should be celebrated and valued, the Group said, urging all political leaders to prioritise social cohesion and inclusion.
Presenting the draft findings of the team from voluntary association of 53 independent and equal sovereign states, home to 2.4 billion citizens, of whom 60 per cent are under the age of 30 years, at a news conference in Colombo, the Chair of the Observer Group, Prosper Bani, said on Tuesday: 'While the environment before and during the poll was generally peaceful, we were concerned to hear about incidents of violence, in particular, an attack on a convoy of buses transporting Muslims to vote in the northern part of the country. 'We strongly condemn this and all other such incidents of intimidation and violence targeted at particular groups.'
'Through this election, the people of Sri Lanka have once again demonstrated their commitment to the Commonwealth’s fundamental values of democracy. We urge the country’s new leadership to promote
and protect these values for all citizens.' An all-time high turnout of the 15 million electorate was registered in Saturday's elections. UNI