Sri Lanka police raids opposition office

Chief Regulatory Officer at CSE Renuke Wijayawardhane presenting the listing certificate to Executive Chairperson at Renuka Hotels Shibani Thambiayah

January 29, 2010 (AFP) – Police raided Friday the office of defeated presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka as monitors and rights groups criticised the Sri Lankan election that returned President Mahinda Rajapakse to power. The Cinnamon Gardens quarter of Colombo, where Fonseka’s office is located, was cordoned off as dozens of commandos from the elite police Special Task Force searched the premises, a witness said.

Press photographers and television crews were kept away by security forces but a police officer at the scene said they were looking for “illegal material” in the compound.

Opposition spokesman Rauf Hakeem told reporters the search was an infringement of democratic rights and branded the raid government intimidation.

“This is an assault on democracy,” Hakeem told reporters. “They are trying to intimidate us as we collect evidence of vote-rigging.”

Fonseka was not at the office when the raid was carried out.

The raid came a day after the government accused the opposition of planning the assassination of President Mahinda Rajapakse who comfortably won a second term in Tuesday’s poll in a result disputed by the opposition. Security forces kept Fonseka under siege while election results were