Sri Lanka Commissioner Rejects Election-rigging Allegations

Dismissing opposition allegations of counting fraud after last week’s presidential elections, Sri Lanka’s commissioner said that he would look into complaints of vote-rigging brought to his office, reported Reuters.

It may be mentioned that losing candidate General Sarath Fonseka and his supporters have alleged that President Mahinda Rajapaksa stole the Jan. 26 election, which he won with a landslide 18 percent margin, equal to 1.8 million votes.

They alleged that fraud was chiefly committed by manipulating computer tallies of the ballots and rumours had it that the commissioner was held at gunpoint or hospitalised during the counting.

“I reject all analysis about the releasing of the results. I worked 37 hours continuously in my office on the day of elections,” Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake was quoted as saying while talking to reporters.

Fonseka has vowed to challenge the election results in court, but has not yet done so. The opposition vowed street protests over the election, and the first was due to start on Wednesday.

“If anyone has doubts, they can go to the courts within 21 days of the election,” Dissanayake was quoted as saying.

Report said that the opposition late on Tuesday said that it had found a few bundles of ballot papers marked for Fonseka, some of which were burnt. To this, Dissanayake said that he would investigate after Fonseka met him on Wednesday to complain.

Generally, local and international election observers have admired the elections, noting the campaign period was violent with five deaths, but said that voting day went smoothly aside from a few minor incidents of malpractice.

Since the day after the election, the government has made increasing allegations that Fonseka and his supporters may have been plotting a coup and assassination attempt.

So far 14 senior military officers have been forced to retire, at least 15 ex-military members of Fonseka’s staff have been arrested and police are conducting an investigation.

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