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Sri Lankan election becomes unfair game Election laws dumped;

(NIDAHASA News) Sri Lanka's upcoming presidential election is increasingly becoming an unfair game as violence against opposition goes high while powerful ruling party supporter including ministers are practically immune from law and order.

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(NIDAHASA News) Sri Lanka's upcoming presidential election is increasingly becoming an unfair game as violence against opposition goes high while powerful ruling party supporter including ministers are practically immune from law and order.

In a recent development, Deputy Minister Nishantha Muthuhettigama has managed to escape to Singapore via a VIP terminal in Katunayake International Airport despite an arrest warrant against him.

Muthuhettigama was accused for kidnapping his supporters from police custody, who have been arrested for allegedly torching an opposition podium.

Yesterday (25), Baddegama Magistrate issued a warrant to arrest the controversial deputy minister and produce before the court. While case was in hearing, Muthuhettigama was seen being saluted by policemen, in front of court.

When queried how had the rascal politician managed to escape through BIA, a high security zone where police security is beefed-up, police spokesman said that Deputy Minister was not arrested as he was travelling using the VIP entrance. However police spokesman Ajith Rohana is confidence that they will be able to arrest when he returns from Singapore.

Petrol bombs were thrown at a opposition election office in Eravur, Batticaloa (Photo: CaFFE)

Election watchdog, Campaign for Free and Fair Election (CaFFE) says they have received over 550 complains so far regarding violence and election law violations: Shots fired at an opposition podium in Wellampitiya in the presence of police patrols; petrol bombs were thrown at an opposition election office in Eravur, Batticaloa; the police chief of Baduraliya was accused of attacking and threatening an opposition supporter.

Meanwhile CaFFE, in a letter to election chief, says elections laws were openly violated by live telecasting the launch of President Rajapaksa's election manifesto via all government and private television stations while postal voting is taking place.

“It is unbelievable that one party was allowed to live telecast their election campaign while postal voting is taking place,” CaFFE said in the letter.

Last Wednesday (24), a protest launched by a pro government nationalist group in front of main opposition United National Party (UNP) ended in a clash, wounding at least two people. Protesters demanded the “truth” about a “secret agreement” allegedly signed between common opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena and opposition leader. Two leaders have already dismissed existence of such agreement while threatening to sue former General Secretary of UNP for forging their signatures.

The party headquarters premises was damaged in the clash. Protesters threw stones and engine-oil at buildings and party supporters. Riot police was called to control the situation.

UNP says most of the protesters were employees of State Engineering Corporation, which comes under Minister Wimal Weerawansa, who also happened to be a top figure of protesting organization.

State resources are continuously being used openly for President Rajapkasa's campaign. Hundreds of State owned CTB buses were seen transporting people for incumbent's massive rallies. The commentary of state radio chairman, who hosts a popular morning show, was criticized by opposition for the “lack of even basic media ethics,” let along balance and fair coverage. All other state owned media outlasts are also accused of highly bias coverage.

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Political

Sri Lanka should accept democratic values; ex-president says

(NIDAHASA News) Sri Lanka's ex president Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga says that the government and people should uphold democratic values in order to protect the country from international interference.

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(NIDAHASA News) Sri Lanka's ex president Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga says that the government and people should uphold democratic values in order to protect the country from international interference.

“If Sri Lanka wants to save itself in Geneva, the Sri Lankan Government and its people have to conduct themselves in accordance with universally accepted democratic norms and standards. They will save themselves automatically if they do this. That is how we can help them,” Kumaratunga told media soon after her meeting with Leader of Opposition Ranil Wikramasinghe at his office yesterday (11).

The focus of discussion was on her recent initiative on religious harmony in the country. However, no political matters were discussed in the meeting with Opposition Leader, Kumaratunga said.

In recent months, Chandrika was working with South Asian Policy & Research Institute (SAPRI) to promote religious harmony. SAPRI is a non-government think tank where religious leaders and intellectuals came together to work on recommendations for achieving religious harmony in Sri Lanka.

Kumaratunga said she has also sought a similar meeting with President Mahinda Rajapakse but was to receive a response.

“I am grateful to the UNP (United National Party) leader for giving us time for the discussion. We have received responses from some government ministers who are willing to meet us. We will later brief the public on the importance of interfaith coexistence and how this will help the country,” she said.

She noted that it was important that the issue of attacks of religious minorities figured in a draft resolution on Sri Lanka presented to the UN Human Rights Council currently meeting in Geneva.

“It is important, yes…because whether it is the U.S. or any [other] country is not important. What is important is that it has been presented to the United Nations organisations and its relevant authorities.” she said.

Meanwhile Opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe said his party would support Kumaratunga and SAPRI in its efforts to create unity among all religions in Sri Lanka.

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Political

National unity govt sworn in; opposition leader from TNA

(NIDAHASA News) Sri Lanka's new cabinet sworn in today (04), forming the first ever national unity government in country's 67 year old parliamentary history. Tamil National Alliance (TNA) became the main opposition party, making an ethnic Tamil the opposition leader after 32 years.

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(NIDAHASA News) Sri Lanka's new cabinet sworn in today (04), forming the first ever national unity government in country's 67 year old parliamentary history. Tamil National Alliance (TNA) became the main opposition party, making an ethnic Tamil the opposition leader after 32 years.

The new government led by Prime minister Ranil Wickramesinghe includes ministers from both main political parties. 43 ministers today took oath before the president; few more to sworn in in coming days.

Following the parileament election, leader of United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) President Maithripala Sirisena and United National Party (UNP) leader and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe came to an agreement to govern together for at least two years. Their aim will be to face together war crimes allegations originating from the decades-long civil war that ended six years ago and to secure enough votes in Parliament to adopt a new constitution with political reforms and power sharing with ethnic minority Tamils.

As two main parties form the government together, TNA, the third-largest force with 16 seats in the 225-member assembly becomes the main opposition party.

R. Sampanthan is the first parliamentarian from the ethnic minority to lead the opposition since 1983, when Tamil legislators resigned en masse to protest against a statute that compelled them to denounce separatism.

A small breakaway faction of UPFA which still remain loyal to former president, MP Mahinda Rajapaka chosen to remain in opposition. They opposed Sampanthan’s appointment, arguing they should lead the opposition. However Speaker Karu Jayasuriya dismissed their claim, as he did not receive such request from UPFA leadership.

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Political

UNP wins election; Voters say no to Rajapaksa's comeback bid

(NIDAHASA News) Ranil Wickremesinghe's United National Party (UNP) secured majority in yesterday's (17) parliament poll, ending former President Rajapaksa's comeback dream.

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(NIDAHASA News) Ranil Wickremesinghe's United National Party (UNP) secured majority in yesterday's (17) parliament poll, ending former President Rajapaksa's comeback dream.

“A majority has mandated to continue the Jan. 8 revolution,” Ranil Wickremesinghe said in an statement, a referring to the presidential election earlier this year that ended Rajapaksa's decade-long regime.

UNP secured 106 out of 225 seats in the parliament; Rajapaksa's United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) got 95 seats while left-wing People's Liberation Front (JVP) securing 6. Tamil National Alliance (TNA) alias ITAK got 16 seats.

However UNP will have to seek support from other parties to form a majority government with 113 seats in hand.

The first election to hold after fall of Rajapaksa regime, which was accused of heavily abusing their power, this was seen as the most peaceful election in recent history.

Mahinda Rajapaksa, who lost January's snap presidential poll to once his minister Mathiripala Sirisena, was hoping to comeback as the Prime Minister. Sirisena was force to grand nominations to former president due to the pressure inside the party, but openly stated his disgust over Rajapaksa's return.

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