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Thursday, 22 November, 2001, 14:31 GMT
Sri Lanka poll violence 'doubles'
Security force patrol
Extra security will be needed to combat violence
By Frances Harrison in Colombo

There has been a huge increase in election-related violence in Sri Lanka compared to last year's polls, according to a group monitoring the campaign.


All political formations... have a lot riding on this election. Very simply, they can't afford to lose,

Election monitor Paikiasothy Saravananuttu
The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence said there had been double the number of reported incidents of election violence so far this year, many of them serious assaults involving firearms.

Already there have been 1,200 reported incidents of poll-related violence, although the parliamentary elections are still two weeks away.

The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence also says there have been 18 murders, and nearly 30 attempted murders in connection with the campaign, and many cases of serious assault, robbery, intimidation and arson.

Jaffna concern

Paikiasothy Saravananuttu, who has been monitoring the election campaign, says violence has now become institutionalised in Sri Lanka as a way of getting elected and then promoted.

"All political formations, and indeed, political leaders too, have a lot riding on this election. Very simply, they can't afford to lose, and unfortunately, both politically, metaphorically and literally speaking, it seems to be a matter of life and death."

The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence is particularly concerned about the situation in the northern town of Jaffna, where it says it witnessed a pro-government Tamil party misusing state-owned vehicles for campaigning, and deploying armed cadres.

There are also concerns about some constituencies further south which have become virtual no-go areas for getting information because of the level of violence between candidates from the two main parties.

No action has been taken by the police against those allegedly involved in violence in last year's general elections, according to the centre.

There is now a pervasive expectation that things will only get worse in the run up to voting on 5 December.

See also:

10 Oct 01 | South Asia
Sri Lanka president calls snap poll
11 Jul 01 | South Asia
Sri Lanka president 'undemocratic'
04 Sep 01 | South Asia
Sri Lanka Marxists to back president
06 Sep 01 | South Asia
Sri Lanka pact defended
19 Jul 01 | South Asia
Analysis: Sri Lanka's political rivals
27 Apr 00 | South Asia
Sri Lanka: An unwinnable war?
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