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Controversy continues over TNA recount as Sumanthiran responds to vote rigging claims

The Tamil National Alliance’s (TNA) M A Sumanthiran responded to what he called “very strange” allegations of vote-rigging this morning, as controversy continued over a dramatic late night recount in an intra-party battle over preferential votes, that saw Sri Lankan troops attack Tamils in Jaffna.

Early reports suggested that TNA candidate Sashikala Raviraj had come second or third in the vote count and was therefore guaranteed a parliamentary seat. However, after the recount was called, reportedly at the request of another senior ITAK politician, the results showed Mrs Raviraj had narrowly lost out on a seat. There were angry scenes at Jaffna Central College, where the recount was taking place, with Sri Lankan security forces charging at and attacking Tamils who had gathered outside.

Praviinaa Raviraj - daughter of Sashikala Raviraj - continued to allege that foul play had occurred, as a statue of her father, former Tamil National Alliance (TNA) parliamentarian and human rights lawyer Nadarajah Raviraj, was covered with cloths in protest.

Sumanthiran told a press conference in Jaffna this morning, that "my agents consistently told me that I am either first or second in every division”.

The newly elected parliamentarian also denied claims that he had been inside the final counting area - as alleged by Mrs Raviraj’s daughter - and said he arrived at the venue after midnight.

"At this point a mob tried to enter the building forcefully and was blocked and chased away by the police on duty,” he claimed. "This was necessary.”

Video footage captured from the scene shows Sri Lankan security officers, including armed Special Task Force troops, charging at Tamils who had gathered outside. Amongst those reportedly injured in the violence was the son of another TNA candidate.

“All the ballot boxes was inside that building and any vandalization would have called the election in to question,” claimed Sumanthiran. "Once the mob was cleared, I came back home.”

Mrs Raviraj was also filmed leaving the count, with her family visibly distressed, whilst crowds heckled Sumanthiran.

“Usually, defeated contestant accuses the contestant directly ahead of him/her,” Sumanthiran continued. “On this occasion, however, the person who finished fourth (Mrs. Raviraj) is placing allegations against me… The entire story is bizarre.”

“I do not want to comment on the conduct of Mrs. Raviraj during this election campaign,” he concluded.

Last night, Mrs Raviraj called on Illankai Tamil Arasu Kacchi (ITAK) leader, Mavai Senathirajah and the Election Commissioner (EC) to investigate the recount of preferential votes in Jaffna.

His comments this morning came as Praviinaa Raviraj continued to allege that vote rigging had occurred, stating that she “felt the results was delayed to wait for Sumanthiran”.

“Turmoil was created to hide the rigged voting that had happened in two counting booths,” she added. “Sumanthiran STF attacked peaceful protesters with stones and etc.”.

Praviinaa Raviraj said they had tried to contact TNA leader R Sampanthan during the controversy last night, but he did not pick up his phone - likening it to clams that he left his phone seemingly engaged during the final stages of the armed conflict in May 18th 2009, as the LTTE political heads, P Nadesan and S Pulithevan reached out to the TNA representatives for help.

She went on to add,

So I want to “thank” Sumanthiran and his STF for attacking, wounding not just friends and family but also supporters of other competitive parties.

I want to “thank” TNA for letting a snake grow in their own garden.

I want to “thank” Sayanthan (Right band to Sumanthiran also some position holder in Chava) for plotting and perfectly executing a strategy to over throw my mother after using her for the votes.

I want to “thank” the current regime for their case stadium strategy to destroy minorities by using their own.

I want to “thank” Sampanthan for not answering calls during Mullivaikkal and also last night at a critical juncture.

I want to finally thank the dutiful election employees for a job well done on producing a clean state over blood.

Praviinaa Raviraj, went on to thank those who voted for her mother and “who stood with us and covered us fork (sic) getting attacked by the STF last night and who bled on behalf of us”.

She also mentioned her father Nadarajah Raviraj, a former TNA parliamentarian who was assassinated in 2006, stating,

“Finally I want to thank you appa for dying so young [because] if not you would have killed yourself last night at the plight of the people of north”.


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