Violence threatens poll cancellation
[TamilNet, Monday, 25 January 1999, 12:09 GMT]
Mr.Vasudeva Nanayakkara, a senior politician and parliamentarian of Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP), a constituent of the ruling People's Alliance (PA) called on the Sri Lankan government to cancel the Northwestern Provincial council elections this afternoon, reacting to reports of widespread rigging and violence perpetrated by members and supporters of the main partner of the alliance, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party.
The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and the New Left Alliance (NLF), both left wing groups that contested the provincial polls, also urged the Commissioner of Elections to declare the elections null and void.
|S.Ratnayake, officer in charge of the Mawatagame Maha Vidyalaya polling center is surounded by the police after it was attacked and ballot boxes were stuffed by a gang in Kurunegala. photo-AP|
They said that the PA has completely rigged the polls today using violence and thuggery against its political opponents and ordinary voters.
The UNP, had written to the Commissioner of Elections that there had been over 265 incidents of election violation today and had requested to withhold the declaration of results of the elections until inquiries against the alleged violence are over.
The Information department issued a communiqué to say that the incidents of today's election violence had been brought to the notice of the President Chandrika Bandaranayake Kumarathunge.
The President had shown her concern over the incidents and had contacted presiding officers.
President Chandrika Bandaranayake has advised the Commissioner of Elections to cancel the election, if necessary.
The Presdient's recommendation to the Elections Commissioner that the polls in certain areas where violence has been reported may be cancelled is seen by informed political analysts in Colombo as a pre-emptive measure, prompted by information that the Commissioner was deliberating with his senior officials and others this afternoon whether he should decalare the polls null and void in view of the widespread rigging and violence.
Meanwhile, Mr.Kingsley Rodrigo, the co-ordinator of Sri Lanka's respected polls watch dog, People's Alliance For Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL), said that the North-western Provincial Council election has experienced an unprecedented level violence in the history of the country's elections.
Sources said that although 60% had polled by noon today most of the votes had been cast by outsiders after several booths had been captured by hooligans and ballot boxes had been stuffed with votes supporting the ruling party.
The monitoring committee and other election officials said that some cabinet ministers were directly involved in the violence that took place during this election.
Officials of the election monitoring committee and Police said that 95 incidents of election violence had been reported to them within a space of 2 hours.