Rights group, monitors query Sri Lankan election

January 29, 2010 (AFP) – Poll monitors and human rights groups on Friday raised questions over elections that drove Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse back to power as his defeated rival demanded a fresh poll. The Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission cited counting irregularities, as well as blatant misuse of state resources by Rajapakse, who comfortably won a second term in Tuesday’s poll.

“Very clearly, the question as to whether Sri Lanka is any longer capable of conducting a free and fair election has been raised in this election,” the group said in a statement.

“It is not only the electoral process that is under challenge. The very process of receiving, preserving and counting the ballot at the commissioner’s office itself is an issue that has been prominently raised.”

The defeated candidate, former army chief Sarath Fonseka, said Thursday he had already lodged a protest with the independent elections commission and would also petition the Supreme Court for an annulment of the result.

“We have already collected enough evidence of sophisticated vote-rigging at counting centres and at the time of the computer processing of the results,” Fonseka told reporters at his Colombo hom