Centre for Policy Alternatives on 31 January, 2010

Presidential Election 2010: Election Day Media Communique No. 2

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Read this press release in full as a PDF here.
Map location here.

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Vaddukottai, Chavakachcheri and Tellipallai. CMEV’s mobile teams were
dispatched to a number of locations where the attacks had reportedly
taken place. CMEV teams verified damages at the following locations.

  1. A push bike parked overnight in front of the polling station,
    J/Chunnakam Roman Catholic Tamil Mixed School (Polling Station Nos 28)
    was damaged.
  2. A tea shop has been damaged on Point Pedro Road, behind Nallur
    Temple, 500m of J/Nallur Station Church of Ceylon Tamil Mixed School
    (Hall No 1-3 Polling Stations 35-37).
  3. A tree has been damaged in front of the Jaffna Municipal Council’s
    Fire Brigade, Point Pedro Road within 500m of J/Nallur Station Church of
    Ceylon Tamil Mixed School (Hall No 1-3 Polling Stations Nos 35-37).
  4. A shop Arasady Road in Nallur within 150m from J/Kandarmadam
    Saivapiragasa Vidyalayam (Polling Centre No 41).

CMEV spoke with eye witnesses who said that within an hour of the
incident a white van passed by the location in Arasady Road and Point
Pedro Road.

CMEV contacted the police station in Jaffna, which is investigating
one of the attacks following a police complaint.  CMEV also received
reports of attacks on polling centres including J/Waddukodai Hindu
College(Polling Centre No 21) but observed no damages. These incidents
are in addition to the hand grenade attack on the residence of
Subramaniam Sharma, SLFP Uduppidi Coordinator, in Valvattithurai at
around 3.30 am today reported by CMEV earlier.

CMEV was informed that most internally displaced persons (IDPs) in
camps in Vavuniya and having a vote in other districts were still
waiting to travel to their polling centres. CMEV was previously informed
by Returning Officers of the areas that transport arrangements would be
arranged and IDPs informed of the arrangements. At 11am CMEV was
informed that only two busses with IDPs from Ramanathan camp in Vavuniya
had left for Killinochchi and many others were waiting by the road
outside the camp to be transported to their polling centres. CMEV
monitors report that as of 09:00 am, potential voters in zone 5, 6, 7
and 8 (1,098 registered voters) were still waiting for transport. CMEV
raised this issue with Assistant Transportation Officer, Mrs
Pathmaraanjini who reported that 48 buses had been deployed within the
Vavuniya District and 30 buses to transport voters to areas including
Killinochchi and Mullaitivu. Sixteen of the 30 buses had arrived as of
11.30 a.m and the 14 are reportedly on the way.

CMEV was further informed that many IDPs had turned up to vote in
Manik Farm camps in Vavuniya though not all were in possession of the
specified identity documents recognized by the Election Commissioner. As
a result authorities had allowed temporary camp cards issued by the
Police to be used as identity documents. Though this measure allows
those displaced and affected by conflict to cast their vote, CMEV is
concerned that the use of temporary camp cards alone can lead to
possible abuse.

CMEV was also informed of a case of a released ‘surrendee’ from the
PRI Technical College currently living in Point Pedro with a relative
who is registered to vote at the College but who has not been notified
of travel arrangements. The Assistant Election Commissioner Kugathanan
informed CMEV that he has no information from the Government relating to
the whereabouts of releases and returnees and therefore cannot inform
them about transport arrangements.

CMEV is deeply concerned that the spate of violent incidents in
Jaffna immediately before the commencement of polling and in the early
hours of polling, indicate a systematic attempt to disrupt voting and
ensure a low voter turnout in the peninsula.  CMEV’s concern is
reinforced by the simple fact of this election being our first post war
national election and the one in which the people of the north have an
opportunity to demonstrate their faith in and commitment to democratic
processes in Sri Lanka. This is especially regrettable given the
imperatives of peace, reconciliation and national unity.

We call on election officials to ensure that the transport
arrangements for IDPs are met.  It is important that delays in transport
arrangements do not affect voter turn out adversely.