In preparation for today’s parliamentary elections, ballot boxes were taken to polling stations in districts across the North-East under heavy security and military presence.
There was the presence of police and Special Task Force (STF) officers during the election preparations in the districts of Jaffna, Mullaitivu and Mannar.
The ballot boxes for today’s elections for the Jaffna district polling stations were sent from the Jaffna Central College yesterday morning.
The preparations were helped out by police and STF officers, with military officials also surrounding and closely monitoring the area.
There are 508 polling stations set up in the Jaffna constituency, with a combined total of 571,848 people eligible to vote in the Jaffna and Kilinochchi districts.
The ballot boxes for today’s elections for the Mullaitivu district polling stations were taken from the main polling station of the district, Vidyananda College in Mulliyawalai, amidst intense security yesterday morning.
The ballot boxes were taken to 136 polling stations in Mullaitivu district, with 78,360 eligible voters expected to turn out to elect 6 members to the Vanni constituency, which includes the Vavuniya, Mannar and Mullaitivu districts.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the body temperature of those who carry the ballot boxes was checked by the health department to comply with health regulations.
Polling stations were cordoned off by STF officers and armed police on security duty. Election observers were in attendance for surveillance and police officers with cameras patrolled the streets to monitor violence.
The ballot boxes for today’s elections for the Mannar district polling stations were taken from Mannar St. Xavier's Boys College yesterday morning.
The ballot boxes were taken to 76 polling stations in Mannar district under heavy security. Currently 88,842 people are eligible to vote in Mannar with further provisions made for 6,000 displaced residents to vote in Puttalam.
Security measures at the school were also ramped up, in the midst of COVID-19 concerns.
The increase in security come amid an increase in Sri Lankan security presence across the North-East, where tens of thousands of soldiers remain stationed for election duties. In addition to the STF and intelligence personnel more than 10,500 civil security personal are to be deployed with military assistance in the North-East.
Amid the heightened tensions due to the increased militarisation in the North-East, last month, Sri Lanka’s election commissioner, Mahinda Deshapriya mentioned that only the police will be used for election duties and insisted that the Sri Lankan military will only be used to transport ballot boxes quickly from polling stations to election offices.
Despite multiple calls from Tamil politicians, most notably from former Northern Province Chief Minister and leader of the Tamil Makkal Thesiya Kootani (TMTK) C.V. Wigneswaran, heavy military presence around ballot boxes in the North-East was evident.