Thursday, April 08, 2010

Illegal propaganda continues in Sri Lankan election campaign: monitors

Sri Lankan election monitoring institutions claimed on Wednesday that although the parliamentary election propaganda period ended midnight on Monday and the election will be held on Thursday, some candidates including those of the ruling coalition and opposition alliance are still engaged in propaganda activities.

Rohana Hettiarachchi, executive director of the People's Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) told reporters that they have observed some candidates still holding their propaganda rallies using loudspeakers in public places strongly violating the election law.

"The main reason for illegal publicity is the battle for the preferential votes," Hettiarachchi said, adding that police officers are helpless because of the political power of such candidates.

Sri Lanka has an Elections System of Proportional Representation (PR) by which the candidates who obtain the majority of preferential votes are elected to parliament.

Hettiarachchi said candidates of the same party clashed each other several times during the election propaganda period due to the battle for preferential votes.

About 72 persons have been hospitalized so far due to election violence, he said, adding that 51 of them got injuries due to clashes among same party candidates and supporters.

"We requested candidates to honor election laws and remove their posters and cutouts and cancel the meeting at least today, but our officers countrywide reported that some candidates are running their campaigns even today," Hettiarachchi said.

He added they had observed about 279 election violence incidents by Tuesday including one death in Kurunegala, about 100 km northwest from the capital Colombo.

Keerthi Tennakoon, director of the Campaign for Free and Fair Election (CaFFE) requested the government to allow them to enter the counting centers because of malpractices allegedly taking place in the process of counting in the presidential election held in January.

Election officials said they have allowed election monitors to enter the results declaration centers.

Susil Premajayantha, general secretary of the ruling coalition United People's Freedom Alliance said all of their candidates have been asked to stop election propaganda activities and honor election laws.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa dissolved the island's parliament in February and the new 225-member legislature is scheduled to hold its first session on April 22.

© Xinhua

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