Source Pravda.Ru

European Union warns Sri Lanka to stop monitoring elections

The European Union has warned Sri Lanka it will stop monitoring its elections unless Colombo implements its recommendations to reduce fraud. The EU chief observer, John Cushnahan, said previous elections had involved corruption and intimidation.

Nearly 70 EU observers will be present for the 17 November election. The EU is a major player in Sri Lanka's peace process, and has pledged financial backing to help rebuild the island after years of civil war.

More than 60,000 people have died since the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels began their fight for autonomy for minority Tamils in Sri Lanka's north and east in 1983.

After observing three previous elections, the EU had recommended an independent electoral commission be set up and improved systems to check police abuses.

But the EU says none of its suggestions have been implemented. "They have merely been left on the shelf gathering dust and that is not acceptable," Mr Cushnahan told Reuters news agency.

"If at the end of this election, no attempt is made to implement our recommendations, any future request from Sri Lanka for election observation is likely to fall on deaf ears."

The EU had called for national identity cards be made mandatory to ensure no impersonation in future elections and also wanted a code of conduct drawn up for political parties.

Violence in elections in Sri Lanka is common and the main opposition has called for observers.

Election chief Dayananda Dissanayake said last month that poll monitors would be allowed access - but said he himself did not intend to vote in the presidential election because he did not trust politicians.

The main contenders for the presidency are Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse and opposition leader Ranil Wickramasinghe, reports BBC news. I.L.