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UPFA, UNP lead the way in polls violence – CMEV

The two major political parties have been accused of carrying out 50% of the major incidents of violence during the run up to the April 25 polls for the Western Provincial Council, the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) said yesterday.

The CMEV in a release issued to media yesterday called on the leaders of the UPFA and the UNP, to take immediate and effective steps to halt the violence perpetrated by their candidates and supporters which is a clear threat to the integrity of the electoral process and democracy in the country.

The CMEV release also said: "The CMEV notice with concern the continuing escalation of violence during the last stage of the election campaign for the Western Provincial Council. As of April 11 CMEV has confirmed 84 incidents of election related violence since the closure of nominations on February 26, 2009.

Of these incidents 20 incidents were categorized as major. It was confirmed by CMEV that in 6 instances fire arms were involved. The 30 confirmed major incidents included 1 murder, 1 attempted murder, 1 abduction, 4 assaults resulting in injuries, 10 non grievous assaults, 3 instances of threat & intimidation, 7 incidents of arson, 3 instances of the misuse public property. Of the major incidents the UPFA was directly accused of being the perpetrator in 10 while the UNP was directly accused in 5 incidents.

The CMEV is gravely concerned that the two major political parties have been accused of carrying out 50% of the major incidents of violence. CMEV calls on the leaders of the UPFA and the UNP, to take immediate and effective steps to halt the violence perpetrated by their candidates and supporters which is a clear threat to the integrity of the electoral process and democracy in Sri Lanka.

While the UPFA has made 30 complaints to CMEV, it was directly accused in 21 incidents. Out of the 30 complaints made by UPFA 5 of these complaints have been made by members of the UPFA itself, clearly indicating how the struggle for preferential votes is now spilling over into violence. The UNP is accused of being involved in 8 incidents whereas it has made 14 complaints. CMEV has received 35 complaints from the JVP and 1 complaint against it.

Of 84 confirmed incidents, 54 (54%) have been allegedly carried out by unknown groups and individuals, of these 14 are major incidents (46.6% of all major incidents).

CMEV would like to draw the attention of the IGP and Election Commissioner to the fact that these incidents are being carried out in a province with a high level of security.

Kaduwela in Colombo district remains the most violent polling division recording 14 incidents (including 5 major) out of confirmed total of 33 incidents for the entire Colombo District. Out of 26 incidents reported throughout Gampaha District, 9 incidents have been reported from Meerigama Electorate, whilst 13 incidents have been reported from Horana Electorate of Kalutara District out of 25 incidents reported from the district.

CMEV reiterates the responsibility of all political parties, the police and the Election Commissioner in arresting the increasing trend of violence.

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