SLA bars thousands of Tamils from voting in Batticaloa
[TamilNet, Wednesday, 05 December 2001, 05:44 GMT]
The Sri Lanka army barred thousands of Tamil voters in Batticaloa Wednesday from casting their votes. SLA sources in the east claimed that the main entry points from the district's western hinterland were closed on a special directive from President Chandrika Kumaratunga. More than 45,000 voters would not be able to cast their ballot because of the Presidential directive to shut down the entry points, Mr. Pon Selvarasa, ex-MP for Batticaloa and a candidate of the Tamil National Alliance said.
Crowds of Tamils who came to cast their votes were turned back by the SLA at the Black Bridge, Mankerni, Kiran Bridge and the Vavunathivu Bridge in the eastern district Wednesday morning. Mr. Selvarasa said that the TNA had protested to the Police and the Government Agent that the SLA has no authority under the law to bar voters or close designated entry points.
The SLA barred more than seventy thousand Tamils in the Vanni from voting today by closing the main entry point at Piramanaalankulam. Tamils in the Vanni and the east have also been prevented by the SLA from voting to promote the chances of the ruling People's Alliance regime's coalition partner, the EPDP, on a special Presidential order issued late Tuesday night.
Seventy one thousand voters live in the western hinterland and the northern sector of the Batticaloa district. The chief returning officer for the district designated six entry points for these voters to cast their ballots in clustered polling centres.
Only two entry points in Batticaloa south, the Paddiruppu Bridge and the Ambilanthurai ferry, remain open for voters. Both points are under the control of the Police.
The entry points closed by the SLA in Batticaloa north are Vavunathivu (four kilometres northwest of Batticaloa town), the Black Bridge (16 kilometres north of Batticaloa), the Kiran Bridge (27 kilometres north) and Mankerni (50 kilometres north).