Violence mars Uva polls; Army deployed in some areas

Provincial Council elections

More than 60 per cent turned up to vote in yesterday’s Uva provincial elections marred by incidents of election law violations which included misuse of state property, officials said.

A series of post-poll incidents were also reported in Badulla last night and the army was deployed in some areas to prevent clashes between rival party members.

After a slow start voting in the Badulla and Moneragala districts picked up later in the day, according to officials. Moneragala Government Agent J. J. Ratnasiri said voting began peacefully with few if any incidents reported. He said there was a larger turnout in the pre-dominantly Tamil areas.

The GA said the security forces did a good job in maintaining law and order throughout the day, but declined to comment on opposition allegations of election violations by the ruling party.

Badulla GA Rohana Keerthi Dissanayake said the situation was about the same in the district. Opposition sources alleged that ruling party candidates had used dozens of vehicles bearing their relevant numbers and symbols to transport voters to the booths from remote villages in blatant violation of the elections laws while the authorities stood idle.

The JVP’s Moneragala chief candidate D. R. Jayewardene alleged that the scene was like a circus where candidates from the ruling party were even fighting among themselves for preferential votes. He alleged state-sponsored goons were roaming the area armed to the teeth with an assortment of weapons intimidating JVP supporters. In an incident reported from the Mahiyangana police division, a JVP candidate and his supporters were beaten up and the vehicles smashed allegedly by UPFA supporters.

The victim, Wasantha Kumara, told the Sunday Times from his hospital bed the unprovoked attack occurred in the presence of police while he was leaving the booth at Bathalaya after casting his vote.Moneragala District’s UNP parliamentarian Ranjith Maddumabandara said the whole election in the Uva was a big joke as the Government side openly flouted election laws.

Independent election monitoring group CAFe spokesman Keerthi Tennakone said election laws were violated from the start of the campaign to the day of voting yesterday mainly by the Government side.
“This was the worst ever election when compared with the previous polls in other parts of the country where some sort of laws prevailed. But sadly this was not the case here,” he said.

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