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Sri Lanka: Election diaries

world Updated: Jan 29, 2010 01:21 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

The five-member Commonwealth Expert Team (CET), which observed Tuesday’s election has called it a "generally well-administered election day but shortcomings in the pre-election period and incidences of inter-party violence taint election.’’

IV Subba Rao, Andhra Pradesh’ chief electoral officer was part of the team and he monitored the election day in the refugee camps in Vavuniya. On the voting of the refugees, a CET statement said: "some problems were reported, including identity card issues and transportation problems for some of those needing to travel to cluster polling stations.’’

The team will release its final report to the government in a few days time.

--- President Mahinda Rajapaksa said on Thursday evening that he was aware that he did not get the majority of the votes from the north and the east but that he was happy they had come out to vote, according to Ada Derana website. Fonseka won by overwhelming margins from the Tamil-dominated regions of Sri Lanka, clearly indicating that the community had block-voted for the retired general. Even in Colombo city where there is a sizeable number of Tamils and Muslims, Fonseka won. A senior leader from the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress told HT that now that he knows that the minorities have voted against him, Rajapaksa would have to be magnanimous in victory.

---- Expressing opinion on social networking sites has its side-effects in Sri Lanka. It was reported that three persons were arrested for spreading rumours by SMS and on the internet social networking site Facebook, according to Ada Derana website.

Details were not released but it was learnt that the accused were commenting on the election. Though arrests were a new thing, internet censorship is quite common in Sri Lanka. For example the TamilNet website continues to be banned eight months after the war has ended. The website, perceived to be pro-LTTE, closely followed the election and gave fairly updated reports. They were out with the trends from the north and the east faster than some of the other popular websites.