The number of incidents of election-related violence continues to rise in the three provinces where Provincial Council (PC) polls are scheduled to take place on September 8. In most instances the culprits are ruling party candidates and their supporters .
Election monitoring groups–Peoples Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) and Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) both said that most of the allegations are directed at ruling party supporters.PAFFREL Director Rohana Hettiarachchi charged that candidates in the Anuradhapura district were distributing dry rations along with water dispensers, purifiers and filters to the public to win their support.
Meanwhile, JVP MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake, who is in Polonnaruwa overseeing electoral activities of his Party, said he had witnessed government candidates distributing
goods to the masses.“This is their way of trying to win votes, by distributing free goods,” he told the Sunday Times.
CaFFE Director Keerthi Tennakoon alleged that over 150 government vehicles were being used in the North-Central Province (NCP) for election propaganda. He said vehicles were parked at government premises in the daytime, while at night they were taken out and used for various campaign activities.
On Friday, the Anuradhapura Magistrate issued notice on 13 persons including the former NCP Chief-Minister Berty Premalal Dissanayake for violating elections laws by using State property for election propaganda activities. They are to appear before Court on August 22.
Meanwhile, Mr. Tennakoon said that a large number of people in the Eastern Province (EP), especially in the Ampara district, didn’t have any type of identity documents. He said that over 1,600 people who did not possess valid identification documents were given photographs to obtain temporary ICs through workshops conducted by the organisation. ITAK Batticaloa District MP P. Selvarasa also voiced his concern about the growing incidents of election related violence in the Province.
He said that ITAK candidate Somasundaram Yohanandarasa was assaulted last Thursday by an unknown gang, while the brother of another candidate, Govindan Karunahram was stoned and had to receive treatment at the Batticaloa Teaching Hospital.
He also alleged that ITAK candidates receive threatening phone calls regularly.“They are trying to hinder our election campaign” Mr. Selvarasa told the Sunday Times.Police media spokesman SP Ajith Rohana said that they have received seven complaints on election related violence. These included a case of simple assault, while the rest were related to threats.
He said investigations into these complaintsn are under way.
By Skandha Gunasekara