SLA, PA blockade costs Tamil legislators
[TamilNet, Thursday, 06 December 2001, 07:20 GMT]
Tamil National Alliance officials said Thursday that they might be losing at least three seats in the Sri Lankan Parliament because more than hundred and forty thousand voters were deliberately prevented from voting by the Sri Lanka army in the Batticaloa and Vanni electoral districts. Election officials in Batticaloa said that if the TNA had got 20097 more votes it would have been eligible for four seats in the district. Similarly, the TNA may get only three seats in the Vanni because of the SLA blockade on voters who came to vote from areas controlled by the Liberation Tigers, officials said.
The TNA’s problem in Batticaloa was further compounded because the grenade attack on one of its candidates Wednesday afternoon and the STF attack at the Paddiruppu Bridge lowered voter turn in the Tamil areas of the district. Polling almost stopped in most villages and towns controlled by the SLA outside the Batticaloa early in the afternoon.
As a consequence only 51.5 percent of the total votes in the SLA controlled Tamil areas of the eastern district were cast whereas in the large Muslim town of Kattankudy, 7 kilometres south of Batticaloa, polling was more than ninety percent.
A spokesman for the TNA in the Vanni said that even if about eight thousand people had come through the SLA’s Piramanaalankulam entry point Wednesday, the Alliance would have been ensured the fourth seat of the electorate. There are six seats in the Vanni, including the one given in each electoral district as bonus for the party scoring the highest number of votes.
“We did not expect the army to become a tool in the hands of unscrupulous politicians. The army is here to safeguard the people’s fundamental rights. But it unabashedly deprived our people of their franchise to aid the narrow political aims of the People’s Alliance”, the spokesman said.