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Monday, 18 January 2010

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Election violence

As Election Day nears the campaign has intensified. Tensions have risen. Showing off has become a contest. Violence, which for the most part was minimal or subdued has taken a turn for the worse.

A UPFA supporter was killed and over three score injured when Opposition goons opened fire at a convoy of vehicles carrying supporters to a UPFA election rally at Anamaduwa last Saturday. Several of the injured are also in a critical condition.

Earlier last week several thousand strong mob attacked the UPFA office in Polonnaruwa in which SLFP General Secretary Minister Maitripala Sirisena narrowly escaped. Whether these are signs of desperation or planned attempts to intimidate and silence political opponents is still a moot question.

What is urgent at present is to halt this escalation of violence. Sri Lankans have nearly seven decades of experience in exercising universal suffrage. That is an experience that would be the envy of even the developed countries in the West. They have conducted elections peacefully barring certain isolated ones during the period of terror. The whole series of Provincial elections last year were very calm and quiet.

The law enforcement officers should ensure that such incidents are not repeated. Prompt investigations and bringing the culprits before courts expeditiously would help much to contain such violence.

There is another factor that has to be taken into account. Interested parties have formed various NGOs ostensibly to monitor elections. However, their monitoring is so partial that one monitoring body has openly accused some others of highlighting minor incidents. Such inflated reports when published in the media send a wrong and distorted message about the reality. Perhaps there may be a material gain for these monitoring bodies when the number of incidents reported increases as they are fed by foreign grants.

The media too share the blame for exaggerated stories of violence. Even family feuds and other private quarrels are being reported as election related violence. For example, take the shooting incident at Tangalle. There the deceased woman was a supporter of the SLFP and President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Apparently she was on her way to a function organised by Parliamentarian Sajith Premadasa on his birthday.

As free spectacles were distributed the deceased lady was in a bus that carried people to that function. It was not an election rally. Yet several newspapers flashed the story with banner headlines to say that a woman on her way to a rally in support of Sarath Fonseka was killed. Even before Police investigations started the media and the monitoring bodies had given the verdict. It later transpired that the murder was the result of a family dispute. The suspect has been already taken into custody together with the weapon that was used to commit the crime.

The same newspapers, however, refrained from mentioning any political involvement in reporting the death of the UPFA supporter on his way to the political rally in Anamaduwa. The need to obey election rules and regulations should be emphasized. Most violence is a result of the breach of the law. For example, it is an offence to put up posters, banners, cut-outs in public places during the election period. Yet this is observed mostly in the breach. Political parties share a big responsibility for this violation. Many reported incidents have occurred when parties had removed the cut-outs and banners of rival candidates.

The Police will have to ensure a violence free poll on January 26 for violence would not only disrupt the election but would also tarnish the image of the country and give room for external interference in the country as it happened in the case of the recent election in Iran.

Further, international observers will be monitoring the election. They would report to the world any irregularities. It would harm the country and in such a case even a just earned victory could be labelled as unjust by external forces that are waiting for an opportunity to blame Sri Lanka.

That is why it is very important to ensure that the poll would be free and fair.

Day of reckoning

The Presidential election campaign has entered its last lap. The day of reckoning is drawing near. It is opportune to sum up the developments so far. First of all it should be remembered that the election is held two years ahead of schedule. The President using his Constitutional prerogative signed the proclamation of the election voluntarily curtailing his term of Office.

Full Story

President Rajapaksa put country before self

The Presidential Election campaign is gradually reaching its climax as January 26, 2010 draws near. Numerous promises, allegations, counter allegations and mud slinging are the topics discussed by many these days. Daily News interviewed the Transport Minister and Treasurer of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party Dullas Alahapperuma for his views on the current political situation and some allegations made.

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Why we should vote for President Rajapaksa

President Mahinda Rajapaksa had a difficult time waging a diplomatic battle in the political front to keep away foreign interventions attempting to foil the battle against the terrorists. That was patriotism, and that was a President who kept his word. As the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and the President of Sri Lanka, the victory over the thirty-year-old terrorism in Sri Lanka is primarily his. Despite that if one wants to vote against the President Mahinda Rajapaksa, which, one has a right to do, one should then be clear in his mind, what are the reasons that justify such a decision?

Full Story

All-around development in Moneragala

Moneragala is the second largest district in the island surrounded by Ampara district from the North and East, Hambantota district from the South, Badulla district from West and North,and Ratnapura district from the South East.

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