News/Comment

9th December 2001

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Ex Housing Minister homeless

Former Housing Minister Managala Samaraweera has written to the Ministry of Public Utilities requesting a month for him to make alternate arrangements with regard to his accommodation in Colombo.

Mr. Samaraweera who was occupying an official residence at Paget Road during the past seven years has to move out of his residence in accordance with state regulations.

In a letter to the Ministry of Public Utilities he said that he has no private residence in Colombo and needed time to look for one. "I will move out of this residence next month", the letter said.

Meanwhile, a Senior Official at the Ministry of Public Utilities said that when a letter was submitted to them they would decide on a time frame depending on the reasons .

The official residences of Ministers and MPs defeated at Wednesday's general elections have to be returned within two months.


They fall by the wayside

By Dilrukshi Handunnetti

While election results recorded a convincing victory for the UNP with most districts swinging in their favour, some political heavyweights of both leading parties fell by the wayside, having dismally failed in the preference battle.

Amongst those were three former ministers Indika Gunawardena, Nandimitra Ekanayake and Monty Gopallawa. Former Uva Chief Minister Samaraweera Weerawanni is another casualty.

The losing former deputy ministers included Jayatissa Ranaweera, P. Sumathipala, Ediriweera Premaratne, Noel Padmasiri Kariyawasam, Chandrasiri Gajadheera, Jagath Balasuriya, Munidasa Premachandra, Shantha Premaratne, Heenmahattaya Liyanage, Nandasena Herath and Mervyn Silva.

Meanwhile, a notable loser was Kalutara district candidate Vidura, son of outgoing Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake.

The UNP also did not lack its own losers. Notable UNP losers included Renuka Herath, Dharmadasa Banda, Sarath Gunawardhane, Sarath Ranawaka, Mano Wijeyaratne and Samson Silva.

Former PA legislators Bennet Cooray, Kesaralal Gunasekera, Keerthi Mawellage, Bandula Basnayake, Surangani Ellawala, Wimalaweera Dissanayake and H.M. Weerasinghe also suffered electoral defeat. The voters have also sent home the majority of PA defectors barring Mahinda Wijesekera and Bandula Gunawardena.

Stinging electoral defeats were suffered by former Deputy Speaker Sarath Munasinghe and Bandula Parakrama Gunawardhane. Former UNP legislators A.H.M. Alavi who joined the PA on the eve of nominations and V. Putrasigamani also lost. The Sihala Urumaya lost its single representative in the House, Champaka Ranawaka.


No re-poll decision not fair by voters, say monitors

By Tania Fernando

Local and foreign election monitors claim that it was unfair and unjust for the Elections Commissioner to have consulted party secretaries about holding re-polls in certain districts.

They say that with the powers vested in the Elections Commissioner under the 17th Amendment, he should have been able to make the decision on re-polling without consulting them.

Chief Observer of the EU Election Observation Mission John Cushnahan said he too would have liked to see a re-poll in certain divisions which were declared null and void.

He went on to say that he was appalled at a statement made by the President, a senior UNP leader and exiled JVP leader Somawansa Amarasinghe that killing was acceptable.

The preliminary report issued by the EU Commission states that the government in power has a special responsibility to ensure that the election was conducted in an atmosphere on non-violence.

"It had a political and moral obligation to ensure that the entire security forces of the state were mobilized to eliminate violence from the political process. This it failed to do" the report said.

Polls monitors of the EU Mission said they had witnessed ballot boxes being stuffed and voters being intimidated at polling stations, specially in the Kandy District.

Meanwhile, PAFFREL Executive Director Kingsley Rodrigo said the election was definitely not free and fair. However, he said that the result was what was expected and reflected the will of the people.

A statement issued by PAFFREL states that the preliminary observations of the monitors indicate that the conditions for a free and fair election did not exist in the Kurunegala, Kandy, Matale and Gampaha Districts and the violations that occurred were of sufficient seriousness to merit a re-poll.

According to observers in the Gampaha District a UNP woman supporter had been being knifed in the stomach by PA supporters, PA and UNP supporters had assaulted each other and ballot boxes had stuffed. Meanwhile, in a letter to the Elections Commissioner the CMEV had requested that according to the Constitution he should hold a re-poll in certain divisions.

The letter states that the Elections Commissioner should take into consideration the interest of the voters and not be guided solely by the interest of the political parties and independent groups.


Uncleared area voters 'disenfranchised'-TNA

The Tamil National Alliance comprising four Tamil political parties - alleged that thousands of Tamil voters in the uncleared areas of the Wanni and Batticaloa districts had been prevented from voting.

The Tamil United Liberaton Front, All Ceylon Tamil Congress, Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation and Eelam Peoples' Revolutionary Liberation Front has urged the Elections Commissioner to hold a fresh poll for voters from the uncleared areas.

TULF Secretary General R. Sampanthan has also urged the polls chief to ascertain from the Presiding Officers and the Returning Officers of the relevant electoral districts the true facts.

He alleged that the polling at cluster stations for voters from the uncleared areas in the Wanni and Batticaloa districts and in the Kayts electorate did not commence at the appointed hour and did not continue until the hour fixed for the closing of the poll. The restricted voting hours prevented voters in the uncleared areas from reaching the cluster polling stations situated in the cleared areas while the entry points into the cleared areas were also closed.

He also accused an armed group contesting the elections in the Jaffna electoral district of preventing voters in the Kayts electorate from freely exercising their franchise at the polling stations throughout the whole period polling took place.

Of the 11 electorates in the Jaffna district the EPDP which allegedly had control over the islets had secured the highest number of votes-15,378-in Kayts electorate whereas the TULF obtained 4,304 and UNP 764 votes.

Alliance candidate Joseph Pararajasingham told The Sunday Times that thousands of voters in the uncleared areas of the Batticaloa district had been prevented from voting by the security forces who closed the entry points into the cleared area reportedly on a special directive from President Chandrika Kumaratunga.

He said as a result more than 40,000 voters were unable to cast their votes.

He alleged that the voters from the uncleared areas who came to cast their votes were turned away at the entry points at Black Bridge, Mankerni, Kiran Bridge and the Vavunitivu Bridge and voters were allowed at only two entry points at the Paddiruppu bridge and Ambilanthurai manned by police personnel.

He said that he made a complaint to Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake as well as to the Army Commander General Balagalle that this action was undemocratic.

He said the Elections Commissioner had assured him the matter would be referred to the Defence Secretary and said he was hopeful the voters would be able to cast their votes after 12 noon but he was dismayed that voters were not allowed entry even then.

He said that when he brought the matter to the notice of the Army Commander he had informed him that information had been received five days back to the effect the LTTE was planning to infiltrate Batticaloa town.

According to reports, it is learnt that about 130,000 Tamil voters had been prevented from casting their votes freely as a result.


Polls chief wants voters as observers

By Chandani Kirinde

Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake appealed to voters to become observers themselves at future elections and ensure that they were not robbed of their franchise.

The Commissioner made this appeal while releasing the final result of the 2001 Parliamentary general election on Friday.

Mr.Dissanayake said the voters of this country are admirable. "Whatever the pressures, they were unshaken as they went out and voted," he said.

There was a high percentage of voting in the polls with more than 75 per cent of the registered voters casting their ballots.

However, Mr. Dissanayake said he was distressed by the high incidence of violence that had taken place in the runup to the elections with the recorded number of complaints to the police standing at more than 2300 with 46 election related homicides.

The Commissioner appealed to the two main political parties to act to stop their supporters from the grassroots level upwards resorting to violence at election time.



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