Polling stations considered in no-man zones

[TamilNet, Thursday, 12 February 2004, 00:26 GMT]
Sri Lanka's Commissioner of Elections, Mr.Dayananda Dissanayake, has summoned all District Returning Officers and District Assistant Commissioners of Elections for a top level conference on Saturday at his office in Colombo to finalize locating polling booths for voters in Liberation Tigers-held areas in the Northeast province and also other related matters, authoritative sources said.

Government Agents of all administrative districts are Returning Officers ex-officio, the sources said.

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leader, Mr.R.Sampanthan, Monday met with the Trincomalee Government Agent, Mr. Gamini Rodrigo, and requested him to take necessary steps to locate polling booths for voters residing in LTTE held villages in the Trincomalee district at sites close to their villages, sources said.

At the last general election held in December, 2001, thousands of voters in the LTTE-held Vanni region were not allowed by the Sri Lanka Army to come and vote in the polling stations located in the government controlled areas in Vavuniya for security reasons.

Likewise, voters in the LTTE-held villages in the Batticaloa district were also not allowed to exercise their franchise. However, a majority of the voters in LTTE held villages in the Muttur east in Trincomalee district with great difficulties exercised their franchise by going to the government controlled areas amid intimidation by security forces where polling stations for their villages were located, sources said.

Several voters who were deprived of their franchise by the security forces filed fundamental right violation cases in the Supreme Court against the SLA army commander, Commissioner of Elections and civil authorities. The SC after inquiry held that the fundamental rights of the petitioners had been violated and ordered the respondents to pay compensation to the petitioners, legal sources said

As now the ceasefire has been holding for the last two years, officials of the elections department and the security establishment are considering a proposal to locate polling stations for voters residing in LTTE-held areas in no man zones, which are located between areas held by the LTTE and the government troops, Sri Lanka government sources said.


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