Sri Lankan forces beef up security in Batticaloa before local polls

[TamilNet, Sunday, 09 March 2008, 11:46 GMT]
Local government elections for nine local bodies including Batticaloa Municipal Council are to take place on Monday 10 March after a lapse of 14 years and all arrangements related to them have been made, according to Deputy Election Commissioner. People`s Action For Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) is the largest monitoring body, engaged with 300 monitors with 20 foreign nationals. However, Batticaloa has been turned into a militarised city with 12 more check posts and the deployment of additional Sri Lanka Army, Special Task Force and Policemen. 6,725 policemen have been engaged. More than 1800 policemen have been brought from Colombo.

837 candidates representing 6 political parties and 22 independent groups will contest in these elections in which 101 members are to be elected.

2,70471 registered voters are eligible to vote in this election in the nine local bodies: Batticaloa Municipal Council, and Piratheasa Chapai (PS) for Earavoorpattu, Koa'ralaippattu PS, Koa'ralaippattu North, Ma'nmunai South and Eruvitpattu, Ma'nmunai, Ma'nmunai West, Ma'nmunai South West and Poaratheevu.

A group of Tamil persons from Aaaraiyampathi in Ma'nmunai have objected to the presence of all Muslim election monitors at the 7 voting booths. In a letter sent to the Government Agent of Batticaloa, the group has urged to post monitors with a balanced representation.

The Special District Election Office has begun to function from Sunday morning at Batticaloa Hindu College and voting will take place in 285 voting booths in Batticaloa district.

4000 election officers, including 150 invited from out stations, will conduct the elections, Batticaloa District Deputy Election Commissioner, Krishnananthaligam said.

Most of the election staffers from out stations are Sinhalese officers.

These officers have arrived in Batticaloa confirming their participation in the Monday elections.

Ballot boxes were brought to the Special Election Office located in Batticaloa Hindu College with tight security arrangements. There are 26 counting booths set up in Hindu College premises, 2 of the counting stations are allocated to count postal votes and another two to count IDP votes.

20 officials headed by Deputy Election Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya arrived in Batticaloa Sunday from Colombo.


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