Asian election observers hope for equal playing field during Sri Lanka polls

Asian election observers have expressed the hope that there would be an equal playing field during the elections in Sri Lanka.

The Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL) has launched its International Election Observation Mission to Sri Lanka’s 2019 Presidential Election.

The engagement in Sri Lanka follows 10 previous election observation missions the organization has conducted in the country since 2001. ANFREL’s team of 41 professional election observers, representing 16 countries, began arriving this week.

The mission will be headed by Damaso Magbual of the Philippines, among the most veteran
international election observers in the world. The team of 4 core members including 2 electoral analysts, 9 long-term observers, and 28 short-term observers will be covering all electoral districts to engage with election stakeholders, with the aim of promoting democratic norms and good electoral practices.

Prior to their deployment in their assigned areas, ANFREL observers will receive briefing in Colombo.

ANFREL is the only Asian international non-governmental organization accredited by the Election Commission of Sri Lanka for the 2019 Presidential Election.

The observation mission will be guided by ANFREL’s methodology, tailor-fitted to comply with the Declaration of Principles and Code of Conduct for International Election Observation.

ANFREL hopes to contribute to further strengthening the foundation of democracy in Sri Lanka by enhancing the accountability and transparency of the electoral process in the country, as well as promote indigenization of international democratic principles.

To support these goals, members of the ANFREL election observation team come largely from independent democracy- and human rights-centered organizations from all over Asia.

As such, ANFREL will use tools for assessment such as the Bangkok Declaration for Free and Fair Elections and the Dili Indicators of Democratic Elections which reflect Asian democratic traditions.

Through this engagement, ANFREL hopes to observe a genuine electoral process which ensures the primacy of the people’s will, equal playing field and electoral environment conducive to fundamental human rights.

ANFREL believes that the presence of observers can help make the entire process more transparent and accessible to the public. The mission looks forward to continuing fruitful engagement with the Election Commission of Sri Lanka, local civil society organizations, other election stakeholders, and most especially the people of Sri Lanka.