The team of Commonwealth observers led by the former President of Malta, Dr George Abela, are in Sri Lanka for the Parliamentary Elections scheduled for 17 August following an invitation from the Office of the Commissioner of Elections. “Sri Lanka is well placed to hold a democratic election that enjoys the confidence of the people,” Dr George Abela said at the media briefing. He also said that the 19th Amendment to the constitution has strengthened the role of Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya.Asked if the presence of the military in the North is a barricade for a democratic poll, Dr Abela said that they will not be able to prejudge the situation and so will need to observe and then submit their findings.In the past, the presence of the military has been seen as a concern by election monitors to ensure a free and fair election, but Dr Abela said that overall, when compared to past elections, the feeling now is that Sri Lanka is moving in the right direction. (Colombo Gazette) Commonwealth election observers said they are cautiously optimistic about a democratic election taking place in Sri Lanka next week.The monitors, who held a press conference in Colombo today before being deployed to their respective areas, said that while some violations have been noted ahead of election day, the general opinion is that the electoral process has so far been peaceful. He said that since arriving in Sri Lanka they have met the Commissioner of Elections and political party representatives as well as civil society.Dr George Abela said that it was heartening to note that there appears to be confidence in the Election Commissioner’s office to manage the electoral process and that on the whole the campaign environment is generally conducive for a democratic poll.