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Monitors fear more violence ahead of Sri Lanka vote

Independent poll monitors expressed fear of an escalation in violence in the final week of campaigning.

india Updated: Mar 24, 2004 12:03 IST

Independent poll monitors expressed fear today of an escalation in violence in the final week of campaigning for April 2 parliamentary elections.

The People's Action for Free and fair Elections said the violence was lower than during the last election campaign in 2001, but it expected more trouble next week.

"Our experience is that there could be a spurt of violence in the final week of campaigning," a spokesman for the private group said. "We will deploy more monitors in the areas more prone to violence."

Independent poll monitors have reported at least three election-related killings since nominations opened over a month ago, but police said they have classified only one of the cases as connected to the vote.

At least 41 people died in campaign violence ahead of the last parliamentary election in December 2001.

Police chief Indra de Silva last week credited the drop in violence to better enforcement of election laws by his force. He said 64,000 policemen will be deployed to protect polling booths, counting centres and candidates during the vote.

It is the first election in Sri Lanka since the police department was brought under the independent Police Commission which has taken away the powers of politicians to interfere with law enforcement.

First Published: Mar 24, 2004 12:03 IST