'General' rigging in Jaffna claimed

[TamilNet, Thursday, 23 December 1999, 10:55 GMT]
The large number of votes garnered by fringe and extremist Sinhala political parties based in the south in the presidential polls held in Jaffna, indicated general rigging had been conducted, officials in the northern town said Wednesday.

Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga won in the Jaffna region by a majority of 4,038 votes at the polls concluded Tuesday.

Total number of valid votes was 111,568. The number of rejected votes was 5,981. The number of people listed as eligible to vote is 612,770.

Kumaratunge of the People's Alliance (PA), polled 52043 votes while her main opponent, Ranil Wickremesighe of the United National Party (UNP) scored 48005 votes.

However, Vasudeva Nanayakkara, the Leftist candidate who was widely expected to garner a significant number of Tamils votes in the north due to the general mistrust of the UNP and PA, got a paltry 3394.

This was despite an appeal by the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) which urged Tamil voters not to choose either of the main parties and to vote for Vasudeva instead.

The results in Jaffna showed that there had been general rigging, Kachcheri sources told TamilNet correspondents last night.

Parties and individuals barely known in Jaffna have got more votes in the northern town than in some Sinhala majority areas of the island, they said.

The extremist Sinhala Buddhist group, The Maha Sammata Bhoomiputra Party, led by the little known Harischandra Wijetunga has managed to get 818 votes in the peninsula while the Liberal Party got 1368, they said.

The Liberal Party is a marginal political group based largely among English speaking coterie of Sinhala intellectuals in Colombo.

The leftist leader contesting the Presidential elections on his own got 3394 votes, the officials said.

And one of the independent Sinhala candidates, W.Y.M Ranjith, a totally unknown quantity in northern politics, managed to score 1873 votes.

The UNP claimed several weeks ago that preparations for rigging were underway in several areas of the island.

The appointment of the paramilitary Eelam People's Democratic Party (EPDP) as President Kumaratunge's polling agents in Jaffna had raised concerns in UNP circles. Gunmen of the EPDP operate alongside the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) in counter-insurgency operations in Jaffna.

The concerns were heightened when cadres of the EPDP went to the Jaffna Kachcheri and removed the voters register on December 3.

The cadres had vowed the ballot boxes will be full on polling day irrespective of whether the Jaffna people turned for voting or not, Kachcheri officials said.

A senior SLA source in the north told TamilNet last week the majority of the SLA's rank and file is opposed to the EPDP rigging the polls in Jaffna though the UNP had also implied the connivance or acquiescence of a senior military official in the peninsula.

Presidential Election -1999, Jaffna District
Electorate Kumaratunga (PA) Wickremasinghe (UNP)
Nallur 5125 4834
Kayts 3377 3580
Kankesanthurai 5324 2271
Vadduloddai 6854 4232
Pt.Pedro 30624270
Manipay 9194 5003
Udupiddy 4664 5685
Chavakachcheri 3430 7494
Jaffna 3471 3263
Kopay 6607 5941


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