PA intimidates opposition, voters in the hills
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 21 December 1999, 11:36 GMT]
The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV), an independent polls observation group said this afternoon that it has received complaints that Lohan Ratwatte, the son of Sri Lanka's deputy minister for defence, General Anuruddha Ratwatte, was involved in intimidating and scaring away voters, threatening the polling agents of the other parties and rigging the polls in Wattegama and surrounding areas in the Patadumabra electorate in the central province.
The CMEV said that PA goons had threatened and intimidated voters and rigged the polls in many parts of Hanguranketha and had attacked UNP MP for the electorate
Mr.Rohan Abeyagunasekara and his supporters. Hanguranketha is an electorate in the Nuwara Eliya district.
|Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike, mother of President Chandrika Kumaratunga, casts her vote in a polling booth in Gampaha, 30 kilometers from the capital Colombo.Photo:AP|
A mobile polls observation unit of the CMEV could not stop its vehicle at a polling booth in that electorate to investigate complaints, that PA supporters were engaged in rigging there, as the thugs at the spot had threatened to attack the monitors with stones.
A spokesperson for the CMEV in the area said this afternoon that only PA polling agents were present at many polling booths in Wattegama and Hanguranketha as a result of the violence, intimidation and rigging in these areas by ruling party supporters and thugs.
She added that people could not vote in many places because of this. UNP member's house was attacked last night in Gampola. A bomb exploded there this afternoon and polling cards in the area were grabbed by PA supporters for rigging.
PA thugs had also stopped people from voting and had collected their polling cards today in Hindagala in the Senkadagala electorate in the Kandy district. (Senkadagala is the home electorate of Sri Lanka's Deputy Minister for Defence Gen.Anuruddha Ratwatte.).
Polls monitors said that the situation was bad in many parts of Udunuwara in the kandy district due to such activities of PA supporters.
PA goons had stuffed ballot boxes after firing tear gas near polling booths to scare voters away in Udathalawinna in the Patadumbara electorate and had chased away the polling agents of other parties from five polling booths in Matale.
United National Party members in the region alleged that Minister for Sports Mr.S.B Dissanayaka and his supporters were also involved in intimidation and rigging in many parts of the central province.
Lohan Ratwatte was a suspect in the murder of a Papua New Guinea rugger player at the Ritz Carlton Casino in down town Colombo.