Man killed in pre election violence

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 10 March 1999, 15:57 GMT]
A Governing party supporter, Wimalasuriya, was killed and 20 others were wounded when a grenade was thrown at a People's Alliance (PA) meeting in Gampola district today. A PA candidate for the forthcoming Provincial Council (PC) election and the SLFP organiser in Navalapitty, Mahinda Aluthgama, was also injured in the incident. PA sources have blamed the UNP for the grenade attack.

They said the grenade exploded at the meeting venue, after a convoy of nearly 30 vehicles, including vehicles belonging to one UNP candidate and the Kandy Mayor (representing the UNP), had driven past the area.

The wounded have been brought to the Navalapitty hospital. Hospital sources said four people have been seriously injured.

Elections to the North Western Provincial Council that took place on the January 25 were marked by unusually high levels of pre election violence.

The elections watchdog, the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence blamed the ruling PA for the majority of violent incidents and further said that the level of pre election violence was 'unprecedented'. The PA went on to win a majority of seats on the council.

After a High Court ruled earlier this month that the Government's postponement of the Provincial Council elections last year was illegal the elections to the other councils were scheduled for April 1.

The President and the leader of the opposition have met to discuss ways in which the experience of the North Western Provincial Council elections could be prevented from being repeated.

The elections are widely seen as a crucial litmus test for the forthcoming parliamentary and presidential elections.

The Catholic community has asked that the date of the election be moved in view of the fact that it would clash with the observance of Maundy Thursday that also falls on April 1 this year.


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