EPDP says PAFFREL is not a neutral monitor

Mar 22 (IL) The Eelam Peoples Democratic Party (EPDP) has warned the local elections monitoring group PAFFREL that if they go back on a previous statement and decides to recruit local Tamil monitors to be posted at polling booths in the North and East, their party will resort to legal action.

The EPDP has informed the Elections Commissioner their objections over PAFFREL's 'unsuitability as a neutral monitor in the North and East'.

Citing reasons for their claim, EPDP Secretary General Douglas Devananda in a letter to PAFFREL Chairman Kingsley Rodrigo claimed that his organisation has gone back on a previous undertaking given to the EPDP by the elections monitoring body.

According to Mr. Devananda, during a meeting between an EPDP delegation and PAFFREL mid last month, the EPDP delegation had expressed apprehension about a possible LTTE attempt at systematic rigging and impersonation at the polling stations in the North and East in favour of the LTTE backed Tamil National Alliance.

The EPDP delegation comprising K. Vigneswaran, S. Thavarajah and Ms. M. Velautham had requested PAFFREL to post international observers at each polling station of the North and East.

"You had responded at the meeting saying that it would not be possible to get the services of a large number of international monitors. Thereupon my colleagues had suggested that if it was not possible to provide international monitors at the polling booths, then post only Sinhala and Muslim monitors from outside the North and East, as local Tamil monitors could be intimidated by the LTTE, you agreed to this suggestion made by my colleagues," Devananda stated in his letter to PAFFREL Chairman.

However the EPDP General Secretary pointed out that PAFFREL is making arrangements to recruit local Tamil polling monitors for service in the North and East.

"When I spoke to you by telephone on March 19, about this new turn of events, your response appeared to be elusive and indicated that you were going back on your word given to my colleagues in February 17," Mr. Devananda had stated.