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Military presence may deter Sri Lankan voters: Monitors

A monitoring group expressed concerns today that the military presence in the former war zone of northern Sri Lanka may lower voter turnout in the Presidential Election on Thursday.



Colombo: A monitoring group expressed concerns today that the military presence in the former war zone of northern Sri Lanka may lower voter turnout in the Presidential Election on Thursday.

Pakiasothy Saravanamuttu from the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence said that concerns have been raised about the vote in the north in particular and about the deployment of security forces that could have "an adverse impact on the voter turnout."

Sri Lanka's military has been accused of intimidating opposition voters in previous elections and campaigning for President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Amnesty International also urged the authorities to ensure that the people's right to political participation is respected.

"Reports of a potential organised plan to obstruct voters on election day - allegedly orchestrated by the government through the military - is also a matter of grave concern," the group's Deputy Asia Pacific Director David Griffiths said in a statement.

Many violent incidents, most against the opposition supporters were reported during a month-long campaign period which ended yesterday.

The incidents include shooting causing injuries, assaults and damage to property.

He has won two previous elections on a wave of popularity for ending a 25-year civil war after militarily defeating the Tamil Tiger rebels, who wanted an ethnic Tamil state in the island's north and east.

An ethnic minority in Sri Lanka overall, Tamils are the majority in the former war zone in the north. Both Rajapaksa and opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena are from Sri Lanka's Sinhalese ethnic majority.

Rajapaksa is facing his biggest election challenge in the revolt led by Sirisena, his former health minister.

Calling the election two years early was seen as an attempt by Rajapaksa to prevent defeat if the poll was held on schedule.

Sirisena defected from Rajapaksa's government a day after the election was announced because he said Rajapaksa was abusing his power and taking the country toward autocracy.

From Zee News

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