* Monitor complains to polls chief:

Samurdhi officers used for propaganda work

By Dasun Edirisinghe

The Network for Election Monitoring by Intellectuals for Human Rights (NEM IFHR) yesterday complained to Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya that the Samurdhi Director General was violating election laws by employing his officials in the UPFA campaign for the forthcoming provincial council elections.

In the complaint, NEM IHR Chief Executive Dr. Uditha Gunasekera has said that they complained to the Assistant Elections Commissioner in Kurunegala, on August 23, that Samurdhi officers were being used in the UPFA election campaign.

Dr. Gunasekera said that, in a letter dated August 22, the Samurdhi Director General had sent five teams of Samurdhi officials to the Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu, Vavuniya, Jaffna and Mannar Districts on the pretext of implementing the Samurdhi Bank programme in the Northern Province.

The officials sent to the North used vehicles and money of the Samurdhi Authority, but they were engaged in the UPFA election campaign, according to their monitors, Dr. Gunasekera said in his complaint.

The election monitor said that they had proof of Samurdhi officers participating in the UPFA meetings on August 25 and 27 in the Narammala, Ambanpola, Polpithigama and Alawwa areas.

Dr. Gunasekera told The Island that 320 election related incidents had been reported to his organisation, so far, since closing of nominations.

Dr. Gunasekera said that according to the polls observers the incidents reported from the Northern, North–Western and Central Provinces in the run up to the Sep. 21 PC elections as follows: violence (25), illegal propaganda (146), misuse of public property for the election campaign (43), abusing state power (46), attempts to influence the people’s verdict z930), police favourism (15), obstructing legal propaganda (3) and minor incidents (12).

Samurdhi Director General R. P. Bandula Thilakasiri was not available for comment.

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