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Less than 48 hours to go: Sri Lanka presidential race becomes a bloody battle

[WARNING: Graphic Images]

(NIDAHASA News) Two prominent opposition activists were sent severed heads of dogs to their homes yesterday (05), a mafia style death threat, also a symbol that sums up the ruthlessness of presidential campaign where incumbent seeks for an unprecedented third term.

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[WARNING: Graphic Images]

(NIDAHASA News) Two prominent opposition activists were sent severed heads of dogs to their homes yesterday (05), a mafia style death threat, also a symbol that sums up the ruthlessness of presidential campaign where incumbent seeks for an unprecedented third term.

Bloody dog heads found hanging on Brito Fernando and Prasanga Fernando's front gates. They both work as human right activists and currently supporting opposition campaign. Brito Fernando said these acts clearly indicate a warning.

Severed heads of dogs: a mafia style dead threat (Photo: Twitter)

Election campaigns officially ended from yesterday night with massive final rallies in Colombo. However both parties continue the battle on social media web sites. Opposition fears that government may use last minute guerilla tactics and fraudulent fear propaganda through state media outlets to win sympathetic voters, especially in rural areas.

Once indisputable President who ended the three-decade-long separatist civil war was taken by shock when one of his own ministers defected the government to run against him, as the common candidate of a wide opposition alliance. However Rajapaksa, accused of corruptions unparalleled in post-independent history, seems to have determined to win the race in any possible mean.

Seen as a firm supporter of Sinhala Buddhist nationalism, Rajapaksa had never been a popular figure among minority group. Recent clashes between pro-government Buddhist groups and Muslims cost him any remaining support from Muslim voters. Major Muslim and Tamil parties like Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) and Tamil National Alliance (TNA) have pledged their support to the opposition candidate, leaving Rajapaksa's destiny solely on the hands of Sinhala Buddhists.

Addressing a rally held in Jaffna, President Mahinda Rajapaksa called himself “the known demon” and asked people to choose him over “an unknown angel.”

Massive crowd gathered for final rallies of both candidates. (Photo: Pradeep Pathirana/ Daily Mirror)

The “unknown angel” Rajapaksa referred to, common opposition candidate Maithiripala Sirisena, despite Rajapaksa’s expensive and sometimes violent campaign, seems to pose a serious threat for incumbents hope for a third presidential term. In fact, several independent surveys suggest a sharp victory for Sirisana.

Opposition accuses government of openly violating election laws. United National Party (UNP) parliamentarian Harsha De Silva showed media yesterday a range of goods distributed by government among people with Rajapaksa's campaign stickers. However it seems Rajapaksa and his camp do not take election laws seriously. Larger than life billboards of President still remain even in capital Colombo.

President, addressing a rally, dismissed the charges against his supporters of stoning an opposition rally, calming if they were to do such thing, they would do it “properly.” However, several people injured in the said incident took place in Pallmadulla. Sirisena was addressing the rally by the time goons stone the stage.

Election monitoring body CaFFE has received over thousand complaints; 157 regarding violence and 1254 election law violations.

Opposition says government is trying to stage a military coup should they lose the election. UNP published a list of retired and current military officers whom they say are working with Rajapaksa regime to carry out the coup. However government did not comment on these accusations.

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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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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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