North Central and Sabaragamuwa Provincial Council Elections 22nd August 2008 – Media Communiqué No 4

North Central and Sabaragamuwa Provincial Council Elections
22nd  August 2008 – Media Communiqué No 4

Prior to the commencement of polling on August 23rd, 2008, CMEV reports a tense situation prevailing in many areas in the North Central and Sabaragamuwa Provinces.

August 20, 2008
It has been alleged by the JVP that two vehicles, one belonging to the Presidential Secretariat and the other belonging to UPFA candidate Udayakantha Gunathileke, were seen carrying what seemed to be polling cards in Nelumdeniya area of the Dedigama electorate, Kegalle. Although the police had checked on this, “they have taken no action to date” said Mr. Mahinda Jayasinghe. CMEV received this complaint on the evening of August 22nd, 2008.

BREACH OF ELECTION LAWS
August 21, 2008

It was reported to the CMEV by the JVP team leader Mahinda Jayasinghe that he had complaint to Kegalle police that in the residence of Vijitha Yapa, of 72, Albert Seneviratne Mawatha in Kegalle, arms, weapons and fraudulent ballot papers were observed. It was stated that the presences of these papers were reported to the police by the JVP Kegalle District parliamentarian Anurudhdha Polgampola. The police had subsequently removed these items from the house.  It was further reported that in the areas of Rambukkana, Kegalle, Deraniyagala and Dedigama of the Sambaragamuwa Province, unofficial ballot papers have been distributed by alleged UPFA supporters. This incident also was reported to CMEV by the JVP team leader Mahinda Jayasinghe. When CMEV contacted Kegalle police regarding this incident they were informed that when the police arrived at the residence of Albert Seneviratne no such weapons and fraudulent ballot papers were found.

MISUSE OF STATE RESOURCES
August 22, 2008

It has been alleged that at about 2.00 am, 10 ballot boxes were transported to the offices of the former Chief Minister of the North Central Province and now UPFA candidate, Bertie Premalal Dissanayake. It has been alleged that he is continuing to use these premises for election campaigning. This complaint was made by UNP election candidate Major General Janaka Perera. He is reported to have also informed The Returning Officer- Anuradhapura, Deputy Election Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya and the Election Commissioner at the Election Secretariat in Rajagiriya. CMEV was unable to reach Assistant Election Commissioner Anuradhapura Saman Bandula Gunasena in order to verify this report.
In the Ruwanwella electorate, Minister of Labour Relations and Manpower Athauda Seneviratne and his son, Parakrama Athauda was seen using double cabs belonging to the Ministry for campaigning purposes. The vehicle numbers were:  GJ-5818, a red colored cab and 57- 6598, an ash colored cab.

According to the CMEV Monitor, Dushmanthya Mithrapala, a UPFA candidate for the Sabaragamuwa province was also seen using a cab belonging to the same Ministry. The number of the vehicle was WPGA- 8170. This particular vehicle was observed been used for election campaign purposes in the area of Bulathkohupitiya in the Yatiyanthota electorate.

At around 10.30 am, a vehicle belonging to UNP candidate Hasitha Samantha was alleged to have been damaged by members of the UPFA, who had arrived at the scene in two white HI-ACE vans, the two occupants of the UNP vehicle were on route to Rakwana town when their vehicle was supposed to have been blocked at Kalubangalawa. Both persons sustained minor injuries and were admitted to the Rakwana Hospital. The UPFA supporters who carried out the alleged attack were also injured and were then admitted to the Kahawatte Hospital. He was concerned about the fact that the police had taken his vehicle into custody, whereas the vehicle belonging to the governing party was released. He also claimed that shots were fired into the air during the “attack”. He further stated that hundreds of people who have not been seen before in Ratnapura district have amassed in various areas close to the town area. He fears that such unscrupulous persons may be used to intimidate citizens and impersonate voters at tomorrow’s elections.

In accordance with election regulations, the police in the Ratnapura town area were observed to be systematically tearing down any and all election related material including posters, banners and hoardings. Supporters of the JVP, meanwhile, continue to put up campaign posters even now, according to CMEV monitors. Supporters from all political parties have been seen riding around town on bicycles distributing leaflets bearing photographs and candidate numbers.  These leaflets have been dropped in front of polling stations and bus stands.

According to an eyewitness, Cyril Gamage, a Pradeshiya Sabha MP of UPFA from Kekirawa threw a burning stick at a local food outlet in the Madaatugama bazaar. This particular establishment was made out of cadjan and therefore was completely guttered in the fire. This incident occurred approximately at 1.30 this morning. The police investigation is ongoing.

The CMEV would like to draw attention the fact in the above instances that election law has been violated. Namely continuous campaigning when the campaigning period should have ceased by the 20th midnight, which is contrary to clause 70 of the PC Elections Act no 2 of 1988 and the misuse of state resources and also creates an imbalanced playing field where the governing party has access to more resources than the other political parties and independent groups.

DR.PAIKIASOTHY SARAVANAMUTTU (CO-CONVENOR)

MR. UDAYA KALUPATHIRANA (CO-CONVENOR)

MR. UVINDU KURUKULASURIYA (CO-CONVENOR)