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Cablegate: Official Informal Number 045 (03/22/04)

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS COLOMBO 000501

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

OFFICIAL INFORMAL

FOR SA/INS

E.O. 12958: DECL: N/A
TAGS: AMGT CE MV
SUBJECT: OFFICIAL INFORMAL NUMBER 045 (03/22/04)

Sensitive but unclassified - protect accordingly.

CONTENTS: PRESIDENT'S PARTY ALLEGES BIAS IN ELECTION
ASSISTANCE
- MORE POLL DATA SHOW PROBLEMS FOR UNP
- TORKEL PATTERSON

PRESIDENT'S PARTY ALLEGES BIAS IN ELECTION ASSISTANCE
--------------------------------------------- --------

1. (SBU) FYI. President Kumaratunga's United People's
Freedom Alliance (UPFA) party alleged over the weekend
that foreign governments -- including the U.S. --
were trying to influence the outcome of the April 2
parliamentary elections by providing financial
assistance to monitoring organizations biased in favor
of the UNP. At a UPFA press conference on March 21,
UPFA candidate M.M. Zuhair read out a statement saying
the UPFA was concerned over financial assistance from
foreign countries going to "bodies comprising persons
who have strong views on political issues and whose
transparency and accountability have not been duly
established and whose public postures have shown a bias
in favor of the UNP." That statement and others were
reproduced in the local press today and given banner
headlines in the government-controlled DAILY NEWS, for
example. Mission has drafted some "if-asked" press
guidance that outlines once again the election
assistance that we are providing, underscoring the point
that none of it is partisan in any way. (POL)

MORE POLL DATA SHOW PROBLEMS FOR UNP
------------------------------------

2. (U) FYI. More recent poll data indicates problems
for the UNP. (As reported in Colombo 477, two polls
were released recently showing that the UNP might be in
trouble due to adverse voter perceptions of its handling
of the economy, among other factors.) Mission has
received an advance copy of the second wave of the poll
conducted by local think-tank CPA with USAID funding,
which was carried out after the March 3 split in the
LTTE. One of the key findings is that those polled felt
the UPFA was more capable than the UNP to handle most
key election-related issues, especially those relating
to the economy. On these matters, the gap for the UNP
might have lessened a bit, but it was still
considerable. The UNP, however, continued to get good
marks for its handling of the peace process. (POL)

TORKEL PATTERSON
----------------

3. (U) We've had fun running around town with Torkel
Patterson today. He's seen, inter alia, Foreign
Minister Fernando, Lakshman Kadirgamar and had breakfast
with the Amcham. Dinner tonight with co-chair
Ambassadors and a few others before he heads to the
airport. (DCM)

LUNSTEAD

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