57 arrested in Sri Lanka for poll rules violations

Posted By: IANS
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Colombo, March 10: Fifty-seven people have been arrested so far for election rules violations in Sri Lanka's provincial polls scheduled later this month, an official said on Monday.

The Western and Southern Provincial Councils elections will be held March 29, in which 3,794 candidates are vying to fill 159 positions in the two provincial council bodies.

Election monitors have already warned the battle will be chaotic and possibly violent with many candidates of the ruling party, the United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) and main Opposition United National Party (UNP) fighting it out for votes.

"Twenty vehicles used illegally for propaganda purposes have also been taken into custody," Xinhua quoted police spokesman Ajith Rohana as telling reporters.

The police have so far received about 60 complaints of election rules violations.

However, election watchdog Campaign for a Free and Fair Election (CaFFE) said it has received 604 complaints on its website, including assaults, abuse of state resources, politicised transfer of public officials as well as handouts of cash, laptops and other gifts to gain votes.

Last month, shots were fired at the vehicle of UNP Southern Provincial Council candidate Anura Senaratne, polls monitors said in what is the first fire arms-related violation reported to date.

Another candidate from the ruling party was arrested by police for carrying out an illegal election campaign and assaulting a police officer in the southern city of Galle.

Two people have also died after a truck carrying UPFA party supporters crashed into a group of bystanders at a political rally.

A UNP candidate was also arrested for allegedly master minding a robbery at a jewellery store where gold worth Sri Lankan Rs.20 million (about $134,000) was stolen to be used to finance the election campaign.

Sri Lanka's elections are routinely violent with shooting and deaths a frequent occurrence. During the last round of provincial elections in September 2013 there were a number of election rules violation complaints, deaths and several shooting incidents on the day of voting.


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