Monitors allowed at counting centers in Sri Lankan polls

20:15, March 24, 2010      

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Election monitoring groups are to be allowed at counting centers in Sri Lanka's parliamentary poll on April 8, monitoring groups said here on Wednesday.

"It is a significant millestone in the over 20-year history of election monitoring in the country," Rohana Hettiarachchi, executive director of People's Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) said.

Hettiarachchi said two polls monitors would be allowed into counting centers and the final result declaration center.

The decision was a change of heart from the Commissioner of Elections, Dayananda Dissanayake who had originally rejected the idea.

Since 1988 at all elections the monitoring groups had been allowed to enter polling stations only.

There were accusations of malpractice at counting centers in the Jan. 26 presidential election.

The opposition cited cases of chasing away of opposition counting agents in the presidential election petition filed in the Supreme Court.

There were 886 counting centers in the January election but the figure is expected to rise in the April 8 election, officials said.

Monitors said they would immediately launch required training for their personnel in order to effectively monitor the counting process.

Source: Xinhua
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