|‘The army was also involved in the election in other ways’ – N. Gopalaswami|
Foreign election monitors from the South Asian region today expressed dismay over the alleged role played by the army during the provincial council election in the North.
Addressing the media today the monitors, who were invited to Sri Lanka by the Department of Elections, also raised concerns over the alleged role of the army in the attack on the house of a candidate of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) a day ahead of the polls.
The monitors said that the army was also involved in the election in other ways including by distributing handouts.
Head of the monitoring group, former Indian Chief Election Commissioner N. Gopalaswami, however said that despite some of the incidents reported there was a “substantial turnout” of voters which showed interest in participating in the democratic process.
He also called for the greater investment of powers in the Elections Commissioner to ensure a free and fair poll at future elections in Sri Lanka.
“The Elections Commissioner should be given overarching powers,” he said.
Anandi Sasitharan, a candidate of the TNA, which eventually won the election, had claimed that the army had attacked her house and her supporters.
A local election monitor was also attacked when he had gone to investigate claims that men in uniform were threatening the candidate at her house.
Gopalaswami said that the army was also involved in the election in other ways including by distributing handouts.
“We are dismayed at the publication of a fake newspaper and the promotion of that false publication on a television station on the day of polling. The group is not aware of any action to stop the television station from broadcasting about the fake publication,” Gopalaswami added.
He was referring to the release of a fake ‘Uthayan’ newspaper on election day which had claimed that the TNA had withdrawn from contesting the elections.
He also said that on the recommendation of the monitors, measures were taken to assist war displaced voters to be transported to polling centers.
However Gopalaswami said that only 26 percent of the internally displaced people voted at the northern provincial council elections on Saturday. (Colombo Gazette)