Japan Funds Project to Ensure Free and Fair Elections
Under this project, the People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL)
The Government of Japan decided to provide US$ 88,667 (approximately Rs. 11.4 million) in grant aid for “The Project for Mobilization of the Citizenry to Participate in the Electoral Process to Strengthen Democracy,” with a view to conducting voter education in the Northern Province and election monitoring in the three upcoming provincial council elections under its Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (GGP).
Supporting the efforts of the Government of Sri Lanka to strengthen democracy, this project is aimed at encouraging local people in the North to exercise their first-ever franchise at provincial level since 1988 and to ensure the conduct of free and fair elections for Northern, North Western and Central Provincial Councils.
Under this project, the People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL), an election monitoring organization will organize election-related activities in a neutral manner. Backed by its vast expertise since 1987, PAFFREL will conduct programs to educate voters in the Northern Province on voting and the system of provincial council and deploy election observers in each polling station in the three provinces. Furthermore, it will also engage with the training of these observers working as immediate guardian of people’s political rights. Collaborating with Japan for the seventh time, PAFFREL also conveys to people Japan’s determination to support the consolidation of peace in Sri Lanka.
Under the leadership of Yasushi Akashi, Representative of the Government of Japan on Peace-Building, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction of Sri Lanka, Japan has been encouraging the national reconciliation process in Sri Lanka. In March, 2013, President Mahinda Rajapaksa visited Japan and during his meeting with Prime Minister Mr. Shinzo Abe, he expressed his strong commitment to hold an election for the Northern Provincial Council. The Government of Japan appreciates the initiative taken by President Rajapaksa in the issuing of a proclamation to the Election Commissioner on July 5 directing him to conduct the election, in pursuit of realizing the recommendation of the Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission. This election would be a milestone for the Government of Sri Lanka in the process of national reconciliation.
Recognizing these elections entirely as domestic processes, Japan hopes that its electoral assistance would reach people at grass-roots level without any prejudice through PAFFREL and ensure inclusive participation of local people. Japan also expects that this project would further enhance the efforts of the Government of Sri Lanka to conduct the elections in a free and fair manner, devoid of election violence, thereby building people’s confidence in freedom of expression and their participation in the democratic political process in the country.
The Grant Contract between Nobuhito Hobo, Ambassador of Japan and. Rohana Hettiarachchie, Executive Director, PAFFREL, was signed on Friday, July 19 at the Ambassador’s residence in Colombo in the presence of Ms. Jezima Ismail, Chairperson of PAFFREL.