By Saman Indrajith
Saturday’s elections in the North will have an impact on the whole country, UNP and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe told Parliament yesterday.
Making a special statement, the Opposition Leader said that the future of the will to find solution to the national problem, displayed by the TNA and the Government to a large extent, depend on what happens at the Local Authority elections in the North.
“It is not merely an election limited to selecting members to the local authorities. The success and failure of the ongoing political process depends to a large extent on the manner in which this election is conducted,” he said.
Wickremesinghe said that in 2009, in the immediate aftermath of the defeat of the LTTE, when conditions of security had not yet reached normalcy, elections were held to some of the local bodies in the North. “The conduct of these elections was far from satisfactory. Armed groups operated openly. The police did not take action on the complaints made by the candidates of the opposition parties. The administration became a part of the election campaign. Only the armed forces stayed out of the campaigns. I must thank our colleague General Sarath Fonseka for having upheld this time honoured tradition.”
“This election is being conducted under conditions of normalcy. Therefore, the duty of conducting elections rests on the Commissioner General of Elections and his officers and the police. The last few weeks have shown the inability of the police to inquire into the complaints of election law violations. The election laws are observed in the breach. There are daily complaints regarding intimidation, violence and abuse of government machinery.”
“Complaints have been received that officials, not only from the North, but also from other areas of the country have become a part of the election campaigns of several ministers. These are reported in the electronic and print media. There are daily news items of tractors, water pumps, agricultural apparatus, sewing machines, fishing nets being freely distributed by the ministers and their officials. This is a serious breach of law,” he said.
The Opposition Leader said that the army had been involved in the election campaign. “Members of the army are harassing the opposition party candidates and supporters. Yesterday I had complaints that security force personnel were removing posters of the opposition parties and pasting posters of UPFA candidates. Never before has the army been involved in political campaigns. None of the previous commanders allowed this. This is a dangerous trend. For the first time, elements of the security forces are involved in the election campaign.
“The incident of a beheaded carcass of a dog being placed in the house of one of the candidates has shocked Jaffna. The vehicle of Hindu God Vairavar is drawn by a dog and therefore it is most unlikely this despicable act would have been done by a Tamil. The finger points at an obvious different direction,” he said.