Thursday, 24 June 2004  
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Provincial Council polls postal voting starts

by Manjula Fernando

Postal voting for provincial council elections commenced yesterday.

It will be monitored by PAFFREL (People's Action for Free and Fair Elections) election observers. PAFFREL Chairman Kingsley Rodrigo said they have deployed 600 local monitors in a selected number of places covering bus depots and police stations in particular, to observe the postal voting scheduled yesterday and today.

They will have 10,000 stationary monitors plus 1,500 mobile observers on election day (July 10) to report any polls violations.

"We expect fewer election related incidents on voting day and in the run up to the election, as there is very little enthusiasm among the public on the election, after seeing so many within a short span," the PAFFREL Chairman said.

He said there had been 159 election related incidents reported to police, from nominations day to yesterday, out of which only 18 were criminal offences. The first death related to the provincial council election was reported from Kalawana on Tuesday.

An ardent UPFA supporter who was backing former Sabaragamuwa Chief Minister Mohan Ellawala was killed during a campaign meeting. Two others were also injured and the police took one suspect into custody.

Rodrigo said that they have not invited foreign observers for the provincial council elections. A spokesman for the Elections Secretariat said that they too will not be deploying foreign observers in the forthcoming polls in the six provinces ; Southern, Sabaragamuwa, Uva, Central, North Central and Western, as there had not been any requests to do so by political parties.

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