SLMC voices fears of possible polls malpractice in East to EU observers | Daily News


 

SLMC voices fears of possible polls malpractice in East to EU observers

The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) has complained to the visiting European Union’s Election Observation Mission that it learns that plans are underway by groups formerly operating under the leadership of ex-militants Karuna and Pillayan to carry out election malpractices and other covert activities such as threatening voters, fraudulent polling including stuffing of votes, violence and other abuses during the forthcoming Presidential Election.

It is further learned that these elements are being mobilised and regrouping themselves to carry out these illegal activities mainly in the Batticaloa district in the Eastern Province, the SLMC told the visiting European Union’s Election Observation Mission to Sri Lanka, at their meeting this week.

The SLMC made this complaint to Mary Boland, Political Analyst of the European Union’s Election Observation Mission, who was accompanied by Priyanka Munasinghe, at a meeting presided over by SLMC Leader and Minister Rauff Hakeem, at the SLMC headquarters, on Tuesday.

SLMC Secretary Nizam Kariyappar, PC, Eastern Province former Chief Minister Hafiz Nazeer Ahamed, SLMC Foreign Affairs Director and senior attorney-at-law A.M. Faiz were also present at the meeting.

The SLMC which has extended its support to New Democratic Front (NDF)’s Presidential candidate Sajith Premadasa expressed its fear of foul play and malpractices of this nature which could possibly occur, seriously affecting voters turnover in the Eastern Province as well as in the other parts of the country where minority communities live in larger proportions.

They expressed fear of violations of serious proportions to ensure the victory of the candidate of the rival party at the forthcoming Presidential Election that could potentially result in serious drawbacks for free and fair elections.

During the three-decade-old civil war, opportunities were given to those who lived in the Vanni in the Northern Province, who were subsequently displaced to various other places like Puttalam, to cast their votes in their native villages. Now, this opportunity is being denied, citing the end of the war. The SLMC brought this matter too to the notice of the European Union.

The SLMC emphasised that such displaced voters should be given an opportunity to vote in their native places, providing necessary transport facilities to do so.

The SLMC also explained that with the extension of polling time, chances are that the voters would be threatened at the last moment to cast their votes forcibly and be subject to other abuses.

The EU delegation was appraised based on the SLMC’s local constituencies’ experience from several previous occasions where such violations and abuses had taken place extensively, especially in the geographically isolated remote villages, the SLMC said.

It is to be noted that during previous elections, several incidents of this nature had taken place in the Batticaloa and Digamadulla districts. It is evident that the present Presidential candidate M.L.A.M. Hizbullah was also allegedly involved in fraudulent activities in the past, the SLMC said.

They also complained that certain television channels and newspapers are acting in a prejudiced manner, giving priority to a certain Presidential candidate, in an attempt to misguide the voters.

A list of villages and polling booths where extensive abuses and violence could be predicated will be handed over to the Elections Commission and also to local and international observers, the SLMC said.

Minister Hakeem also said that he had given his extensive contribution to ensuring free and fair elections by participating as an observer of the Commonwealth and SAARC missions, in countries like Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Hong Kong, where serious election malpractices take place frequently.


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