EU calls on Sri Lanka to probe reports of election irregularities

Sri Dharanee Performance Arts Theatre

BRUSSELS, January 29, 2010 (AFP) – The European Union on Friday urged the Sri Lankan authorities to investigate reports of “irregularities” during the country’s recent election and ensure the safety of his defeated opponent. Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse won a bruising re-election battle on Tuesday, but the result was rejected by his main opponent, retired four-star general Sarath Fonseka, who is calling for an annulment.

Europe is ready to work with Rajapaksa, but is concerned about “a significant number of incidents,” EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement.

The European Union “trusts that the irregularities reported by election observers and the election commission will be duly investigated and that the safety and security of all candidates and campaign workers will be ensured by the authorities,” Ashton added.

Fonseka, who claims the voting was rigged, told reporters in Colombo on Thursday that the government was trying to intimidate him into silence by withdrawing his security and suggesting he was planning a coup.

“They are preparing the ground to take me also into custody and they will try to do that in the next few days,” he said. Ashton did hail the fact that the vote