Pillayan sworn in as CM for Eastern Province

[TamilNet, Friday, 16 May 2008, 14:16 GMT]
Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillayan, the de-facto leader of the paramilitary-cum-political party, the TMVP, was sworn in as the Chief Minister for Eastern Province as M.L.A.M Hisbullah, who was competing with Chandrakanthan for the CM post, announced that he and two of his elected associates had decided to function separately. Mr. Hizbullah, who claimed that the swearing-in was unconstitutional boycotted the swearing-in ceremony which took place at the Sri Lankan Presidential Secretariat around 6:30 p.m. in front of the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

18 Muslim representatives (including the ruling UPFA and the opposition SLMC), 10 Tamils and 7 Sinhalese were elected to the EPC. 2 bonus-seats were allocated to the party that secures high number of votes.

Of the total 37 seats, 20 (18+2) went to the UPFA, 15 to the UNP-SLMC alliance, 1 to the JVP and 1 to the Tamil Democratic National Alliance (TDNA). The UNP, SLMC, JVP and TDNA are opposed to the armed rule by the TMVP paramilitary. However, the TDNA has said it would support the candidacy of a Tamil candidate for the CM post.

The EPC would be dependent of the support extended by the Muslim representatives in its decisions and the UPFA is yet to sort out the crisis inside the alliance, as evidenced by Hizbullah's statement to media after the swearing-in of Pillayan.

With the vote-rigging and the final-hour ballot-stuffing by the TMVP, Pillayan managed to rank 5th in the preferential votes. As he polled the highest number of preferential votes within the candidates of the UPFA, he claimed the CM post.

Hizbullah argued that the Muslims within the UPFA had secured higher number of seats than the Pillayan group, 6 opposed to 4. However, Pillayan in turn claimed that without his contribution the UPFA wound not have secured high number of votes and thereby claiming his contribution to the 2 bonus seats.

Meanwhile, the opposition in Sri Lanka has said that the EPC election was largely undemocratic as the outcome was directly affected by the violence and the malpractices.

Also, the Centre of Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV), an independent monitoring body, in its conclusion on the election in the East, stated that the outcome was affected by the violence and malpractice.

"We do strongly feel that the level of violence and the malpractice affected the ultimate result of the election," said Dr. Packiyasothy Saravanamuththu of the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), which is a founder and member organisation of the CMEV addressing the press after the conclusion of the election for the EPC.


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