ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday May 4, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 49

Poll incidents: Batticaloa leads the way

By Madhushala Senaratne

Since the closing of nominations on Aptil 3 about 40 complaints of election-related incidents, mainly from the Batticaloa district, have been reported, polls monitoring organisations say.

People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) Deputy Executive Director Rohana Hettiarachchi said they had received 41 complaints. Of these 23 were from Batticaloa, eight from Ampara, six from Trincomalee and four other cases from outside the province. These included three instances of misuse of state media and the Colombo office of Daya Gamage, UNP’s Ampara chief candidate being attacked. The nature of the incidents reported from the east included two killings, (two TMVP members) threats, assault cases and misuse of state property including state vehicles and circuit bungalows.

Meanwhile the UNP’s election related complaints unit said they had received 38 complaints, mainly from the Batticaloa District since April 18. An official of the unit, former parliamentarian Themiya Hurulle said the main complaint especially from Batticaloa was the inability to conduct campaign work in Tamil-dominated interior areas due to intimidation from TMVP supporters.

He also said there were complaints of TMVP supporters carrying pistols and travelling in vehicles with unmarked number plates. Mr. Hurulle said on April 30, they had received a complaint from the Kalkudah electorate, where a TMVP group worker and another supporter, each armed with a 9mm pistol had warned some UNP supporters that they would be killed if they worked for the UNP before tearing and defacing some UNP posters. He said these incidents had caused fear among voters too.

He said on May 1 the unit had received complaints that some registered voters had not received their poll cards and there were fears of these being used by interested parties to influence the results.

Another polls watch group Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) has called on the police and other authorities to take into custody vehicles that do not carry number plates and maintain law and order in the Batticaloa district.

A spokesperson for CaFFE, Kirthi Tennakoon said political parties and independent groups contesting the election had complained of threats from those travelling in vehicles that did not carry number plates adding that observers of the group too had spotted such vehicles on three occasions last week.

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