SL Presidential Polls: Near Fizzle-Out in North East

[TamilNet, Thursday, 17 November 2005, 10:14 GMT]
Very low attendance of voters was reported at the cluster-polling booths in the North-East as the voting in Sri Lanka to elect the fifth executive president began at 7:00 a.m Thursday. Situation in Jaffna remained calm in complete contrast to the polls eve marred with grenade attack incidents in the peninsula. At least six grenade incidents were reported in Batticaloa-Amparai. Two Tamil civilians were killed in Kalmunai. The voting continued till 4:00 p.m. Security was tightened throughout the country.

Voting booth in Valaichchenai
Voting booth at Karuvakerny Vigneswara Vidyalayam
Voting booth in Valaichchenai
A voting booth at Valaichchenai Hindu College, 27 km northwest of Batticaloa
Muslim voters in Oddamavadi
Muslim voters in Oddamavadi, 30 km northwest of Batticaloa

Elections Department officials said the polls were largely peaceful and around 70 per cent of eligible voters cast their ballot except for the North East.

Voters in the North-East, except those in Muslim villages in the East, stayed behind in their houses. Meanwhile, long queues were seen forming at the polling stations in the south with men and women carrying their polling cards to cast their votes.

Although the A9 remained open, there were no one to cast vote at the polling booths set up for voters from the LTTE areas.

Only a few voters, as low as 20 called on a few polling booths in Jaffna till noon, sources said.

Meanwhile, two Tamil civilians, S. Sathiyan, 16, and K. Niroshan, 28, were killed and five children seriously injured in an explosion inside a house located on Somanathar Road at Pandirippu in Kalmunai around 1.30 p.m. on Thursday, Police said. The children, Piriya 8, Vithushya 9, Rangan 9, Chandran 18, including two-year old Mathushan, were rushed to Kalmunai Hospital, Police said.

Two assailants, on a motorbike,shot and wounded Moulavi A.M.Nafar, in Kalmunai. The Moulavi was returning from Mosque at 12:15 p.m. The reason behind the shooting incident was not clear, Kalmunai Police said.

Seven civilians and two Police constables were wounded in a grenade attack at 12:15 p.m. at the polling booth located in Chenkalady Maha Vidyalayam, 2 km north of Eravur. The wounded were rushed to Eravur Hospital.

Two home guards, two police constables and an election officer on duty at the main counting centre at the Batticaloa Hindu College were wounded in a grenade attack Thursday noon. The centre was provided high security by the Sri Lankan troops. The policemen were seriously wounded, medical sources said.

In Akkaraipattu, 21 km southeast of Amparai town, Sri Lankan Special Task Force soldiers were confronted by unidentified gunmen, who fired at them around 7:30 a.m. The incident took place between Thandiyadi and Thamaraikulam at the 215 Mile Post. STF soldiers returned fire, but no casualties were reported.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka's President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge along with the two main Presidential candidates, SLFP's Mahinda Rajapakse and the UNP's Ranil Wicremesinghe has appealed for a trouble-free poll and to remain calm after the results are announced.

The police department has said that curfew would be imposed if necessary to prevent any post-poll violence.

The election department has created around 700 counting stations Island wide at several schools and other Government institutions. Election Department officials said the counting of the postal voting will commence immediately after the polls closed and the first of these results should be out before mid night Thursday. The entire results from the twenty two electoral districts are expected to be announced before Friday evening.

The President-Elect of Sri Lanka would be sworn in within fourteen days after his victory.

Rajapakse on voting day
Prime Minister and Presidential Candidate Mr. Mahinda Rajapakse with his wife Mrs. Shiranthi Rajapakse at D. A. Rajapakse Vidyalaya
Ranil on voting day
Presidential candidate and the opposition leader Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe voting at the Colombo University Thursday monring
Rajapakse on voting day
Prime Minister and Presidential Candidate Mr. Mahinda Rajapakse with his wife Mrs. Shiranthi Rajapakse at D. A. Rajapakse Vidyalaya
Ranil on voting day
Presidential candidate and the opposition leader Mr. Ranil Wickramsinghe addressing the press


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