PC Poll: Voting ends on relatively peaceful note

*No major incident reports
*Voter turnout reasonably good

By Franklin R. Satyapalan

The poll in the Northern, Central and North Western provinces was relatively incident-free as voting ended at 4 pm yesterday, senior election officials said.

"There were no major incidents reported", they said.

Polling was brisk with an estimated voter turnout of around 63%, which they described as "reasonably good" for a provincial-level election.

However, under the new system it was difficult even for the Elections Commissioner to indicate an exact percentage of the polling until the end of the counting of ballots, they pointed out. "That’s why we gave indicated an estimated 63%".

The election was conducted at 3,712 polling stations at 7 am yesterday in 10 districts of the country to elect 142 members to the three provinces from amongst 3,785 contenders in the fray.

The poll to the Northern Provincial Council, conducted after a span of 25 years, has evinced tremendous interest with the international community also closely watching the developments, political sources said.

Apart from a few incidents relating election law violations, including intimidating and the chasing away of voters in the North by armed persons, the distribution of, what was called, a special "newspaper bulletin" was also brought to the attention of election officials yesterday.

This bogus "news bulletin", printed under the masthead of the ‘Uthayan’ newspaper published in Jaffna claimed that Mrs. Ananthi, the spouse of Elilan, the former LTTE political leader of Trincomalee was contesting as the No. 1 candidate under the TNA banner and ‘House’ symbol from Jaffna. It claimed she had crossed over to the UPFA on Friday and called upon the Tamil voters to vote for the Betel Leaf symbol, PAFFREL and CAFFE said.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa who left last night to participate in the 24th General Sessions of the UN General Assembly in New York, will, on his return decide on the UPFA‘s Chief Ministers and the Board of Ministers of the three provinces and when they would be sworn in, government sources said.

Additional Commissioner of Elections (Provincial and Local) R. N. A. L. Ratnayake said that following the conclusion of polling, the counting of 111,383 postal votes at 73 counting centers will commence after the Ballot Boxes were received by the 477 centers by 6 pm yesterday.

Deputy Commissioner of Elections (Administration) M. M. Mohammad said that it would be late Sunday morning by the time the final results of the three provinces could be announced. The results of the preferential votes count will follow thereafter.

Network for Election Monitoring reported many instances of chasing away of polling agents of the UNP early yesterday especially in the areas of Wnnappuwa, Miriskotuwa, Boralessa in the Puttalam district.

PAFFREL reported that persons carrying arms had shot in the air to chase away voters at a polling station in Kelaibokke area of Panwila situated within the Kandy district around 12 noon yesterday.

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