COLOMBO, Oct. 22 (newsin.asia
) – Thirty foreign election monitors from the European Union Election Observation Mission were deployed in all nine provinces of Sri Lanka on Tuesday to begin monitoring the election process, just weeks ahead of the island’s Presidential polls.
The team, which arrived in Sri Lanka on Oct 11, left the for the provinces on Tuesday morning after a brief meeting with journalists.
They will in the comings days observe and assess the campaign activities of candidates and political parties as well as observe the overall environment of the elections, including respect for fundamental freedom, civil and political rights.
The foreign observers will also observe and assess the media, including social media.
Dimitra Ioannou, Deputy Chief Officer of the EU Election Observation Mission told journalists in capital Colombo that foreign observers from the EU had arrived in Sri Lanka following an invitation by Sri Lanka’s Elections Commission.
This is the sixth time the EU observers will be monitoring Sri Lankan polls as it had deployed their missions during the polls in 2000, 2001, 2004, 2005 and 2015, Dimitra said.
“We are in Sri Lanka with a team of 30 highly experienced long term observers who have been deployed to all nine provinces from Tuesday. They will be meeting a wide range of election stakeholders in their areas and begin sending first-hand accounts from the field soon,” Dimitra said.
For election day which will be held on Nov. 16, 30 more short term observers and 7 members from the European Parliament will join the long term observers bringing the total mission strength to some 80 observers.
The EU observers will remain in the island till after the polls to observe any appeals or complaints that have been or may be raised.
35 candidates will contest Sri Lanka’s Presidential elections next month while over 16 million people will cast their votes.
The main candidates include former defense secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa and deputy leader of the ruling United National Party, Sajith Premadasa.
The Elections Commission has said it has recorded over 1000 election-related violations so far.