Widespread violence, last-hour ballot stuffing mark elections in East

[TamilNet, Saturday, 10 May 2008, 18:40 GMT]
Paramilitary TMVP personnel entered several polling stations in the Tamil areas in Batticaloa and Trincomalee and stuffed the ballot boxes forcefully during the last-hour, before the ballot boxes were removed to counting centers in Batticaloa. Meanwhile, election officials said an average of 60% voter turn-out was registered across the three districts in the East. The polling was high in Sinhalese and Muslim areas while an average of 45-50% votes were registered in Tamil areas. The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) has recorded 64 incidents at 6:00 p.m. Saturday. Majority of major offenses were committed in Batticaloa district, followed by Ampaa'rai (12) and Trincomalee (08).

30 000 additional personnel, including STF elite commandos, from the Sri Lankan armed forces were deployed in duty to ensure free and fair elections throughout the Eastern province, according to the sources there.

Meanwhile the CMEV said systematic impersonation was most widespread with a particular concentration in the Batticaloa District where 15 of the 22 such incidents occurred.

Areas of serious concern in respect of violence and malpractice in the province are Valaichchenai and Kathankudy in the Batticaloa District, the Pottuvil Polling Division in the Ampara District and Thiriyai in the Trincomalee District.

The CMEV called upon the Election Commissioner to order a re-poll in these areas.

Following is the district-wise update on election malpractices reported by the CMEV at 6:00 p.m.

AMPARA DISTRICT

VOTER IMPERSONATION AND ELECTION MALPRACTICE IN ALAYADIVEMBU AND THIRUKKOVIL IN THE POTTUVIL POLLING DIVISION
CMEV monitors observed a number of incidents of electoral malpractices and of voter impersonation in particular, in thirteen (13) Polling Stations in the Pottuvil Polling Division Monitors observed children who looked as young as 13-15 years of age casting votes. They also observed that there was no proper procedure for the identification of voters, no designated officer to check the Identity Cards of voters and that only TMVP Polling Agents were present in these Polling Stations.

The Polling Stations in the Pottuvil Polling Division are :

  • 42 Koraikalapu Shakthi Vidyalaya, Vinayagapuram
  • 48 AK/Kalliyanthivu Wadivel Vidyalaya, Kalliyanthivu
  • 49 World Vission Pre School, Thirukkovil 4
  • 50 AK/Kanchirankuda Govt. Tamil Mixed School, Thirukkovil 4
  • 51 AK/Thambiluvil Kalaimagal Vidyalaya, Thambiluvil (Hall No. 01)
  • 52 AK/Thambiluvil Central College, Thambiluvil
  • 53 AK/Thambiluvil Kalaimagal Vidyalaya, Thambiluvil (Hall No. 02)
  • 54 AK/Thambiluvil Saraswathy Vidyalaya, Thambiluvil
  • 70 AK/Alayadivembu Thirunavukarasu Vidyalaya, Alayadivembu
  • 71 AK/Akkaraipattu Sri Ramakrishna Central College, Akkaraipattu Hall No.01
  • 72 AK/Akkaraipattu Sri Ramakrishna Central College, Akkaraipattu Hall No.02
  • 73 AK/Akkaraipattu Ramakrishna Mission School, Akkaraipattu
  • 74 AK/Akkaraipattu As-Sipaya Vidyalaya, Jamath Alim Nagar


ASSAULT AND SNATCHING OF ID CARDS FROM VOTERS
UNP supporters claimed that they were assaulted and their national ID Cards snatched in close proximity to Galode Vidyalaya (Polling Station 51) and Miriswatte Vidyalaya (Polling Station 45) this morning. The Padiyathalaawa Police when contacted by CMEV, confirmed that they had received a complaint from the UNP supporters. The Police said they would reinvestigate and have summoned the complainants for this purpose.

INTIMIDATION
CMEV monitors reported that at 3.20 pm, a number of vehicles including jeeps and pick-ups were observed moving around Ampara Town. Some of these vehicles did not have license plates and in some of them, there were individuals dressed in civilian clothes carrying arms.

BATTICALOA DISTRICT

IMPERSONATION IN KATHANKUDY
CMEV was informed of alleged voter impersonation taking place at Polling Station 112 BT Japiathul Arabic Collage, Kattankudy, Batticaloa Polling Division at around noon. Farook Majeed Deputy Chairman, SLMC reported that a group of people standing in front of the Polling Station were distributing false ID cards to voters who were then being sent in to vote. The group continued to stay nearby, even up to midday.

Grama Sevaka Mr Mohamed Jaroof complained that he was threatened by UPFA supporters following an attempted impersonation of a voter. The Senior Polling Officer in Polling Station 114 Meera Balika Maha Vidyalaya reportedly called and inquired into the validity of a certified identity card (a replacement for the national ID) from the GS as the details on the card did not tally with the voting list. The GS denied that he had issued the certified National Identity Card. This had reportedly led to the GS being intimidated by UPFA supporters.

ASSAULT OF POLLING AGENT
An UNP Polling Agent, M. Siyath, was assaulted allegedly by supporters of M.L.A. Hisbullah outside the Polling Station 110 Hiluriya Vidyalaya, Kattankudy at 10 a.m this morning.

INTIMIDATION AT POLLING STATION IN KALKUDA
In Polling Station 24 and 25 BT Murakkoddanchenai Ramakrishna Mission Tamil Mixed School, Kalkuda Polling Division unidentified individuals in civilian clothing were observed obtaining information from Police Officers and making inquiries as to how many people had voted. The Police Officers were observed as having passing on this information.

TRINCOMALEE DISTRICT


BALLOT STUFFING IN THIRIYAI
An eye witness, who refuses to be named for reasons of his personal security, informed CMEV monitors of incidents of ballot stuffing in Polling Stations in Thiriyai - namely. Thiriyai M.V. Hall 2 (B 86), Thiriyai MV Hall 3 (B 87) and Al –Nooriya MV Hall 2 (B 83). He claims that by 7am this morning people transported in a bus and several vans entered the Polling Stations and stuffed the ballot boxes. In Polling Station, Thiriyai MV Hall 1 ( B84) the SPO and Police resisted and prevented ballot stuffing.

VOTER IMPERSONATION IN TRINCOMALEE
In the Trincomalee Polling Division, as reported to the Trincomalee Police and confirmed by CMEV monitors, unidentified persons, arriving in a Dolphin van 51-4198, an Intercooler 64-9347 and an Indian Jeep bearing the number WP HH 7288, had assaulted UNP MP Sarath Chandra Rajakaruna and his team and forcibly taken their camera. The incident took place at around 11.30 a.m. When contacted by CMEV, the Trincomalee Police Station stated that they could not confirm this incident.

VOTER IMPERSONATION IN KINNIYA
At 11am, CMEV monitors observed attempted voter impersonation at Polling Station 90 Naduoooththu Government Muslim School, Kinniya. Persons attempting to vote had to be turned away as their NICs did not tally with the Voter list. The area around the Polling Station was noted to be tense.


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