3RD LEAD

UPFA wins 'rigged' EPC election

[TamilNet, Sunday, 11 May 2008, 05:40 GMT]
Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapaksa's ruling UPFA alliance wins the Eastern Provincial Council (EPC) election with 18 seats and 2 bonus seats in the election held on Saturday with widespread rigging. The opposition UNP-SLMC alliance receives 15 seats, 1 seat for the JVP and 1 seat for Tamizh Democratic National Alliance. Meanwhile The Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) observed that the Eastern Provincial election, was not at all ‘free and fair’. Despite the rigging, the opposition UNP-SLMC alliance wins the Trincomalee district where it had promised to resettle displaced Tamils in Champoor.

Despite the rigging, the opposition UNP-SLMC alliance wins the Trincomalee district.

Displaced people in Trincomalee have voted for the UNP-SLMC alliance which had promised them to resettle the people in their own places and take up the issue of proposed Champoor power-plant with India.

Meanwhile, paramilitary Pillayan Group has played a key role in widespread election malpractice, paving the way for UPFA victory in Batticaloa and in the Tamil areas of Ampaa'rai district.

"Dominance of rule of law had been overtaken by a dominance of violence," the CaFFE observed.

The district wise break-down of expected seats based on the results announced so far, follow:

Trincomalee: 5 UNP-SLMC, 4 UPFA and 1 JVP
Batticaloa: 6 UPFA, 4 UNP-SLMC and 1 TDNA
Ampaa'rai: 8 UPFA and 6 UNP-SLMC


Extracts from the report by the Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) released at the end of the election day follow:

"The Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) observed that the Eastern Provincial election, which was held today, was not at all ‘free and fair’. This is due to the reason that it very clearly shown that dominance of rule of law had been overtaken by a dominance of violence. In all three district that voting was conducted in there have been incidents of voters being attacked and prevented from casting their votes etc. CaFFE observed that polling agents who had arrived at the polling booths in the morning have had to leave because of the prevailing climate of intimidation.

"In all three districts there have also been reports of polling booth agents of certain political parties being attacked, chased away, not allowed to enter into the polling booths and also incidents in which they were abducted.

"In the Valachenai area, monitors observed that election commission officials were totally disregarded and certain factions perpetrated organized disturbances against the voters who were suspected to be casting votes against certain political parties. We also observed that organized gangs in many areas located in the Digamdulla and Trincimalee districts had been methodically stationed in these areas prior to election. Security personnel and law enforcement officials could not take any action against them. In Dehiattakandiya it was evident that there was a total climate of violence and intimidation and these gangs had systematically gone into selected areas and attacked selected people.

"In Batticaloa, CaFFE observed 14 and 15 year old children casting votes without being challenged. They carried out such illegal voting with or without their voting cards, ballots paper and even without any identification documents.

"Non- State armed groups were seen in areas around Batticaloa and Kalmunai carrying out election activities. They were observed to immediately withdraw from polling booth areas when they noticed election observers approaching, they were then seen to return to polling booths once they perceived that the elections monitors had left. In Trincomalee, CaFFE observed that a Minister had brought Internally Displaced People from Puttalam to cast votes and furthermore, internally displaced people from the Trincomalee itself had been methodically organized and taken to vote."

"Parallel to these observations CaFFE also observes that the people of the Digmadulla District have been seriously intimidated by the alleged acts of the LTTE, namely the bomb explosion and mortar attack that took place in Ampara and the attack on the ship in the Trincomalee harbor."

"[..] [list of violence]"

"On the foregoing observations CaFFE would like to request that the election commissioner annul polling of certain polling booths and direct a re-polling in the polling booths of all three districts where serious violence and election malpractices have taken place."

"We strongly feel that the election commissioner should pay special attention to polling booths in the Verugal, Kappalthurai and Echampaththu divisional secretariat areas located in the Trincomalee District, the Valachenia, Ottamavadi, Porrative, Kokadicholai, Kathankudai and Arriampethi areas located in the Batticaloa district and in the Tirukovvil and Akkaraipathtu areas located in the Digamadulla District."


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