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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 82

Thousands arbitrarily deprived of vote in Sri Lankan.......

[b]Thousands arbitrarily deprived of vote in Sri Lankan presidential election[/b]

By W.A. Sunil – World Socialist Web Site

Foreign and local election monitoring groups have hailed the November 17 presidential election in Sri Lanka as “free and fair”, except in the North and East where the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) imposed an informal boycott. However, there are reports from a number of different sources that tens of thousands of eligible voters had their names removed from the electoral roll in other parts of the island, potentially affecting the election outcome.

Several items have appeared in the Sri Lankan press. United National Party (UNP) Deputy General Secretary Tissa Attanayake told the Island on November 19: “Hundreds of thousands of eligible voters in the electorates outside the North and East have been intentionally omitted from the register of electors for the presidential poll and they could not exercise their fundamental right to vote.” The UNP, which lost the election, is calling for a recount in the North and East where the LTTE boycott resulted in a substantial drop in the turnout in many areas.

The UNP comments could be put down to sour grapes but other evidence points to the large-scale disenfranchisement of voters. In an article entitled “Thousands stripped of voting rights”, last weekend’s Sunday Times reported that voters in Gampaha, Galle, Puttalam, Colombo, Batticaloa and Kandy had arrived at the booths to find their name was not on the roll. In some cases, voters had registered in time but failed to receive their poll card and were turned away when they attempted to use their national identity card. The report cited the case of a woman who had lived at the same address and voted in every election since 1959, but discovered that she had been arbitrarily struck off this time.

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