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Hambantota sports festival on election day

3 October 2011 06:00 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Concerns expressed by poll monitors on the South Asian Beach Sports Festival to be held in Hambantota on Saturday coinciding with the local councils election has compelled Elections Chief Mahinda Deshapriya to request the organisers to begin the festival after polling closes.

Peoples Action for Free and Fair Election (PAFFREL) Executive Director Rohana Hettiarachchi said they had already informed Mr. Deshapriya about it and he is known to have asked the organisers to change the opening time of the festival to 6pm.

Mr. Hettiarachchi said there was the possibility that the festival would be used for election propaganda by the ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) and this was why PAFFREL raised the matter with Mr. Deshapriya.

However he said the postponement could cause problems since it was an international sports festival.

Campaign for Free and Fair Election Director Keerthi Tennekoon said he would take up the matter with the Polls Chief today.

He said he had received several complaints from opposition parties about this festival because there was the possibility and opportunity to use this festival for election propaganda as a large number of ministers and other state officials were expected to participate. “It is not clear as to why a large number of ministers should participate in the festival.

Meanwhile United National Party (UNP) General Secretary Tissa Attanayake had written to Mr. Deshapriya asking him to take appropriate action to stop the ruling party from using the festival for election purposes. He said the festival could have an impact on the casting of votes as there would be several polling stations close to the venue where the festival was to be held. (Yohan Perera)

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