polling booths slashed
Candidates contesting next Thursday’s presidential election
have agreed to a pruning down of the number of polling stations
in the northern Jaffna peninsula, Government Agent K. Ganesh said
He said the decision came after the Defence Ministry and Elections
Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake reviewed the security situation
in the peninsula.
“Polling stations have been reduced from 624 to 220 in the
Jaffna district,” Mr. Ganesh told The Sunday Times yesterday.
This is made up of 103 cluster polling stations in the Muhamalai
area and 117 in the rest of the peninsula. Muhamalali is the gateway
to security forces controlled Jaffna and is separated by a stretch
of no-man’s land from the Tiger guerrilla dominated territory
in the Wanni.
Government Agent Ganesh said he had instructed all his officials
who have been assigned for election duty to be present. He said
he did not expect that the polls in the north would be disrupted
due to lack of officials.
Mr. Ganesh said the reduction followed a request by the Ministry
of Defence on grounds of security. He said he made the reduction
after consultations with Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake.
Candidates contesting the presidential election have also given
their consent for the reduction, he added.
The move to reduce the number of polling stations comes in the wake
of Thursday’s three-and-half-hour meeting between the Tamil
National Alliance (TNA) and political wing leaders of the LTTE.
Following the meeting TNA leader R.Sampanthan declared that both
the TNA and the LTTE were convinced that the Tamil people would
not benefit by showing any interest in Thursday’s elections.
Though the TNA or the LTTE will not stop voters, he said he was
confident the Tamil people would not show any interest in the polls.
in the eastern Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Ampara districts, officials
said preparations were under way to conduct the elections as planned.
Trincomalee District Secretary, K. G. Leelananda said there would
278 polling stations, of which 21 would be cluster booths for voters
from uncleared areas.
Assistant Elections Commissioner T. Krishnanandalingam said all
arrangements to conduct the poll in the Batticaloa district had
been completed. He said 353 polling stations would be set up with
88 of them being cluster booths for voters from LTTE-controlled