Officials, agents chased out of counting centres: Opp.

Nearly four days after the presidential election, opposition parties were in the process of gathering evidence on election malpractices and violations which occurred in various parts of the country during the polls as well as at counting centres, where counting agents were reportedly chased away.

The opposition charged officials and agents were chased out of the counting centres at gun point by goons. Counting agents in the Gampaha, Puttalam and Matale districts lodged complaints with the Department of Elections and election monitors.

However, complications have arisen as the agents were appointed from various political parties and were not in a position to gather the complaints lodged immediately, as the complaints had been lodged by the agents and not through the political party.

Janatha Vimukthi Perumana (JVP) MP Vijitha Herath said they were in the process of gathering information and evidence before raising the matter in Court. UNP MP Dr. Jayalath Jayewardene who was at Pathalagedera in Veyangoda where the counting of the Negombo, Wattala, Katana and Minuwangoda areas was taking place said he was threatened humiliated and even pelted with water bottles and other missiles when he had stayed on at the counting centre.

“It was around 2.00 am when a Deputy Minister from the Gampaha district stormed into the place and ordered everybody out at gun point. He was accompanied by a large mob armed with automatic assault rifles”, Dr. Jayewardene told The Sunday Times.

He claimed the mob was menacing and succeeded in chasing everyone out. This was around the time opposition polling agents reported the common candidate was leading in the electorates of Wattala, Divulapitiya, Katana and Negombo, he added.

“As I refused to budge they turned on me calling me an LTTE agent, and perhaps it was my personal four-member police detail that saved the day for me as well as for the Negombo electorate. He said he immediately informed Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake, the IGP, SSP Gampaha and the relevant Government Agent.

Furthermore I also lodged a complaint with the Pathalagedera mobile police unit, the reference number of which is in my possession, he added.

A similar situation prevailed at a counting centre at Christ King College in Matale, where the Matale electorate votes were being counted. A Minister accompanied by his wife, daughter and a heavily armed gang stormed the building.

UNP MP Ranjith Aluvihara said the staff were intimidated and chased away while some including women who hesitated were brutally assaulted. “The Minister and his goons secured the place for themselves thereafter, the end result is now known”, Mr. Aluvihara said.

“I immediately complained to the Elections Commissioner’s Office in Colombo, the Regional Elections Commissioner and to the police, but to no avail” he explained. The Government Agent (GA) for Matale Mr. Gamini Seneviratne who is also the Returning Officer confirmed the incident, but denied allegations it could have influenced the outcome of the poll.

UNP MP Range Bandara said goons stormed a counting centre at Fathima Maha Vidyala in the Puttalam district shortly after midnight and secured the place for themselves after chasing those inside,.

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