Polls Chief sends top team to probe presence of armed gangs in East
Senior Elections Department officials are to be dispatched to the Eastern Province to probe allegations about the operation of armed groups and cases of intimidation to candidates ahead of the provincial elections on September 8.
Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya told the Sunday Times three deputy commissioners and several assistant commissioners would be sent from Colombo tomorrow on a 10-day visit to look into the allegations made by the Tamil National Alliance which is contesting under the Ilankai Tamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK) symbol. The party had told the Polls Chief its members could not carry out their campaign freely in the East.
Mr. Deshapriya said the purpose of the probe was to take suitable action.
The Elections Commissioner meanwhile has told UPFA General Secretary Susil Premajayantha that the government should take action to prevent armed groups from operating in the province, if the allegations were true. The request was made during his talks with representatives of political parties contesting the September 8 polls.
Polls monitoring group PAFFREL’s Executive Director Rohana Hettiarachchi who was present at this meeting told the Sunday Times that the Commissioner had also agreed to have a separate meeting with the parties who believe they faced threats in the Eastern Province.
The TNA in its complaint had said that at least three serious incidents had taken place in the Eastern Province and feared more violence.
Former public servants, woman refugee in the fray
From Sinniah Gurunathan, Trinco corr.
Among the candidates contesting the forthcoming election to the Eastern Provincial Council (EPC) from the Trincomalee district, two have served the Eastern Provincial Council in various capacities till their retirement, while another is a Tamil woman refugee from Sampur.
The three are Tamil National Alliance (TNA) chief candidate C.Thandayuthapani who retired from the post of Deputy Secretary to the Provincial Ministry of Education. Earlier he held the post of Provincial Director of Education in the Eastern Province. Later he was promoted to the post of Deputy Secretary of the Provincial Education Ministry.
The other candidate on the TNA list is Dr. Indurani Rajadhramarajah who retired from the post of Provincial Director of Indigenous Medicine. Before that she had served in several capacities in the Provincial Department of Indigenous Medicine.
The third is Ms. Pathmanathan Pathmalatha who had been an inmate in the Kaddaiparichchan welfare centre where displaced Sampur refugees are staying. Her party leader Dr.Vigneswaran had been holding the post of senior advisor in the EPC till its dissolution. He said five women including Ms. Padmalatha are contesting the EPC election from his party.