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2005 poll calmest of all since 1999 - PAFFREL

Based on pre-poll monitoring data, PAFFREL, a leading local monitoring body said the 2005 poll was the calmest out of the four elections since 1999.

Releasing its preliminary report covering the pre-poll period since the nominations day on October 7, PAFFREL executive Director Kingsley Rodrigo said the reported cases were also minor compared to other elections.

Commending the efforts of the President, Elections Commissioner, the Police Commission and the Police Department for the improved pre-poll stage, Rodrigo disclosed there were only 172 incidents from nominations day to November 14 midnight as against 295 pre-poll incidents in the 2004 General Election.

"This could not have been if not for the support of the two main candidates too. If they wanted they could have incited violence," he added.

In 1999 PAFFREL had recorded 1462 pre-poll incidents and 562 in the 2001 General Election, a significantly high number compared to incidents this year.

PAFFREL media monitoring for the past week shows that state media both electronic and print had been supportive of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse's campaign while some of the private media have been biased towards the Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremasinghe's campaign in their coverage and allocation of airtime.

It identified Irudina, Morning Leader and Sunday leader to be almost 100 per cent biased towards Ranil Wickremasinghe while Lanka newspaper and Silumina have shown the same trends towards Mahinda Rajapakse.

The survey carried out during the past week identified Irida Lakbima, Ravaya and Divaina from print media, TV Lanka and Derana TV stations and Isura radio station from electronic media to be somewhat moderate in their coverage.

This was revealed at a PAFFREL press conference at the Library Services and Documentation Centre yesterday. Chitty Jayawardena, in Charge of the PAFFREL international monitors deployment, Chief international Observer James Ross and its National Coordinator Thusitha Aluthpatabendige also spoke.



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