In a press release the Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CAFFE) said that the situation was not conducive to a free and fair election due to the increased number of incidents of violence in the two provinces. As of midnight Tuesday 156 case of pre-election violence were reported including 73 attacks on candidates, 44 cases of intimidation, 39 cases of damaging property belonging to parties and 20 attacks on vehicles.
About 21,000 policemen will be deployed on special duty to patrol streets and protect polling stations to ensure free and fair election.
On Wednesday religious leaders met top Elections Commission officials to express their concern about the rising violence. They were given broad reassurances that everything “had been done to ensure peaceful elections.”
Election Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake said that there will be “certain limitations’ which cannot be revealed to the public but which will be illustrated before the Parliamentary Select Committee on Electoral Reforms.
Fr Damian Fernando, director of Caritas Sri Lanka, told AsiaNews that “the current situation of chaos could have been avoided had the 17th amendment to the constitution, which calls for creation of a special independent police commission, been implemented.
Religious leaders complained as well that “Sabaragamuwa and North Western provinces have virtually become a battlefield” and that people are denied their constitutional right to “free and fair elections”.
The National Peace Council (NPC) issued a strong statement, urging the government of Sri Lanka and opposition parties “to respect and follow the law” during the electoral process.
For the NPC a clash between the parties with violence and impunity “would mean the law of the jungle”.
For this reason it calls upon “the Elections Commissioner to do his statutory duty” and implement “the 17th Amendment to the Constitution.”