PA accused of rigging, thuggery in hills

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 10 October 2000, 09:23 GMT]
Independent polls observers reported widespread rigging by thugs and armed persons working for two powerful People's Alliance (PA) politicians in several parts of central province Tuesday morning. The United National Party charged that armed PA groups had blocked its polling agents from reaching their polling centres in Hanguranketha in the electoral district of Nuwara Eliya.

Tamil voters were also prevented from voting by pro-PA thugs in some parts of Hanguranketha sources said. Fifty persons injured in election related violence in the central province were admitted to the Kandy Hospital this morning.

Sri Lankan opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe of the United National Party casts his vote in Colombo October 10, 2000. Some 12 million voters are expected to chose from among 128 political parties, fielding more than 5,000 candidates for the 225-seat parliament.Photo:Reuters/Anuruddha Lokuhapuarachchi
Hanguranketha is the electorate of PA strongman and close associate of the Sri Lankan President, Minister for Sports Mr. S.B Dissanayaka.

The UNP and the Janata Vimukthi Peramuna alleged that PA goon squads forcibly took over two polling booths in Mawilmada in the Kandy district and stuffed the ballot boxes with votes for the PA.

Meanwhile, a armed PA group stormed the Zahira College polling booth in Bulagahathenna in the Akurana polling division and had forcibly stuffed ballot papers marked for the PA into the ballot box early this morning.

The National Unity Alliance said that it is in possession of some of these marked polling cards. NUA sources said that the preference on these ballot papers was marked for number one, that is for Deputy Minister of Defence Gen.Anuruddha Ratwatte.

Another armed PA gang assaulted an elections officer at the polling centre at Mathibendiya school in Hanguranketha and attempted to seize the ballot box there. However, the officer had escaped from the goons with the ballot box and sought safety at the elections secretariat here.

A PA gang had confiscated polling cards from voters at the polling booth at the Holy Trinity College in Nuwara Eliya. Another PA gang stormed the polling booth in Hava Eliya in Nuwara Eliya and went off with all the polling cards there this morning.

Meanwhile, unidentified gunmen shot at UNP candidate and former minister Dr.Ranjit Attapattu this morning in Hambantota in the southern province. He escaped the shooting unhurt Police sources said.

A UNP supporter was shot dead allegedly by PA gunmen following an altercation between UNP candidate Ranjith Aluwihara and PA candidate Janaka Tennekoon in Dambulla this morning around 11 a.m.


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