Sri Lanka elections not free and fair: opposition

Standing left to right – Mr. Dinesh Jebamani (Chief Manager Liability Product Management and New Age Media – Seylan Bank), Mr.Sudesh Peiris (Senior Manager – Digital Banking Channels – Seylan Bank), Ms. S.Senevirathne (Representative of the Revenue Department – Western Province), Mr. Tilan Wijeyesekera (Deputy General Manager – Retail Banking – Seylan Bank) and Mr. Malik Wickremanayaka (Deputy General Manager – Operations – Seylan Bank)

April 7, 2010 (AFP) – On the eve of Sri Lanka’s parliamentary elections, the main opposition accused the ruling party Wednesday of campaign abuses and said it did not expect polling to be free and fair. The opposition United National Party (UNP) said President Mahinda Rajapakse’s administration had used state-owned vehicles and buildings for campaigning and turned the government-run media into a party mouthpiece.

“There was a suppression of private media. Journalists were attacked and abducted by those connected to the government,” UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe told reporters in Colombo. “Editors were arrested and intimidated.”

He said the state-run media had carried out biased reporting to favour Rajapakse’s United People’s Freedom Alliance.

“Some people feel that there is no point in voting Thursday because their votes will not make a difference due to rigging,” Wickremesinghe said. “We appeal to the people to go and vote. Please. There is an opportunity to change the government.”

He accused the police of failing to implement election laws and favouring ruling party candidates, a charge already denied by the authorities.

Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake h