EU chief election monitor calls for electoral reforms in Sri Lanka

The European Union's chief election observer in Sri Lanka on Wednesday called for immediate electoral reforms in the island nation, warning that failure to do so could result in a loss of EU goodwill.

"It is not proper for me to issue threats," John Cushnahan told reporters about persistent delays in enacting EU-suggested reforms, including making the election commission an independent body. But if no steps are taken toward implementing the changes, Sri Lanka "runs the danger of forfeiting a lot of (EU) goodwill," he said.

Cushnahan, on a visit to Sri Lanka, said the EU has already recommended setting up an independent election commission, a code of conduct for political parties and tougher action to stop election-related violence.

"The recommendations ... are restated because most of them have not been implemented," he said during his current visit.

"Once again, we repeat our call ... for the establishment of a number of independent commissions, including an independent election commission," Cushnahan said.

The existing Election Commission is state-appointed and was accused in the last presidential poll on Nov. 4 of being biased toward ruling party candidate Mahinda Rajapakse, who won with a slim majority.

Rajapakse's chief opponent, Ranil Wickremesinghe, complained to the commission that Tamil Tiger rebels had prevented ethnic Tamils from voting in the north and east, and called for a new ballot.

The move was rejected by the state-appointed election commissioner, reports the AP.

I.L.

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