Sri Lanka president accused of illegal campaign funding

December 31, 2009 (AFP) – Anti-graft campaign group Transparency International accused Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse on Thursday of using state property and public cash to illegally finance his re-election bid. The Sri Lanka branch of the Berlin-based watchdog said armed forces, police and public servants were being deployed to campaign for the ruling party in the January 26 vote.

Election law prohibits the use of state property or public servants for the benefit of candidates.

“The abuse of public resources at elections seems to be a continuing activity in every election in Sri Lanka. The trend seems even more ominous at the current presidential election,” TI said in a statement.

Rajapakse, who is being challenged by 21 others, including his former military chief Sarath Fonseka, called a snap poll hoping to capitalise on the end of a 37-year ethnic conflict with separatist Tamil rebels in May.

Transparency cited several incidents where a national youth movement led by the president’s eldest son had solicited state funds for a 790,000-dollar media campaign to support his father.

“Although the advertisements do not mention a name of a candidate, it is not a secret or difficult to