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Monday, 11 September, 2000, 16:56 GMT 17:56 UK
Sri Lanka vote fears voiced
Ballot boxes
Election officials want to minimise ballot fraud
By Amal Jayasinghe in Colombo

Sri Lanka's main opposition party has accused the government of trying to intimidate election officials and sabotage their efforts to ensure free and fair parliamentary election next month.

It says the government is trying to put pressure on the Elections Commissioner, Dayanada Dissanayake, by placing him under police investigation for making a controversial decision.

Mr Dissanayake ordered millions of stickers to be attached to ballot papers in what he said was an effort to minimise fraud in the elections.

The idea was that the stickers would help to distinguish forgeries at the time of counting.

The government has criticised Mr Dissanayake for not consulting the main political parties before taking they said was a controversial move.

The government also criticised him for giving poll-related printing work to private companies.

Opposition

But election officials have defended their decision by saying they were well within their rights to take whatever measures they thought would counter fraud.

The main opposition party, United National Party (UNP), has also come out in support of the election commissioner.

UNP spokesman Gamini Athukorale said the anti-fraud measures would make it difficult for the ruling party to rig the elections.

But President Kumaratunga has said her People's Alliance was confident of victory and there was no need to resort to rigging.

More election-related violence was reported over the weekend.

A candidate was gunned down, raising the number of people killed in polls-related clashes to seven.

The European Union is set to send election monitors to observe the parliamentary polls.

The EU says elections in Sri Lanka are becoming increasingly violent.

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See also:

10 Sep 00 | South Asia
Sri Lankan politician killed
23 Aug 00 | South Asia
Pre-poll violence in Sri Lanka
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