|Blue Brigade headed by Namal Rajapaksha enters East|
Certain events have occurred in the past several days which have raised grave misgivings in regard to whether the elections to Eastern Provincial Council to be hold on Saturday would be free and fair, tells R. Sampanthan, the parliamentary group leader of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) on Thursday in a formal letter sent to SL President Mahinda Rajapaksa who is also the leader of the ruling UPFA alliance. Vehicles belonging to candidates and supporters of political parties opposed to the UPFA have been attacked, Sri Lankan military intelligence personnel have warned those opposed to the UPFA of ‘unpleasant consequences’ after the elections and a so-called Blue Brigade that has arrived in the East has been asking for the polling cards of voters, the letter by Mr Sampanthan said.
While requesting the SL president to ensure that none of the illegal acts feared are allowed to happen, and that a genuine free and fair election is held in the Eastern Province, Mr. Sampanthan alse sent a copy of the letter to SL Commissioner of Elections, SL Inspector General of Police, Deputy Inspector Generals of SL Police of all three districts Ampaa’rai, Batticaloa and Trincomalee and Returning Officers and Assistant Commissioner of Elections in three districts. The letter has also been distributed among the diplomatic community in Colombo, TNA sources said.
Full text of the letter by Mr Sampanthan follows:
Provincial Council Election-Eastern Province
8th September 2012
I write to you in regard to the above. Certain events have occurred in the past several days which have raised grave misgivings in regard to whether the above election would be free and fair.
1. Candidates and supporters of political parties opposed to the U.P.F.A. – the ruling party and vehicles in which they travelled have been attacked.
2. Certain personnel claiming to be intelligence personnel have questioned persons engaged in electoral activities on behalf of political parties opposed to the U.P.F.A. – the ruling party, and warned them that they could face unpleasant consequences after the elections.
3. Certain persons identified as the “Blue Brigade” have asked for the polling cards of voters, inspected the same, and warned them that they could face unpleasant consequences if they did not support the ruling party.
4. Various development activities have either been commenced or declared opened and functional after the receipt of nominations in the different districts by highly placed persons in the U.P.F.A- the ruling party.
5. Official vehicles have been used for electoral activities and official personnel have been used, sometimes without their free consent for electoral activities by highly placed persons in government corporations.
Such activities have raised serious questions in regard to the elections being free and fair. These activities are seen to be intimidatory and intended to unduly influence the voter. It is learnt that-
1. events could occur that would dissuade persons inclined to vote against the U.P.F.A, the ruling party from exercising their franchise.
2. that the voting could be manipulated.
3. that the counting could be manipulated.
Such fears are accentuated by the reality, that the repeal of the 17th Amendment to the Constitution has resulted in the (a) Elections Commission (b) the Public Services Commission (c) the Police Services Commission not being considered any longer as independent free and fair. It is feared that these institutions could be used to suborn the genuine democratic process, and distort a legitimate electoral verdict.
Such a situation would not be good for the country and would add to international opprobrium the country is already facing. It would also irreparably damage the country’s confidence in the democratic process.
In the circumstances, I would urge you as Head of State and also as the Leader of the U.P.F.A., the ruling party to take steps to ensure that none of the illegal acts feared are allowed to happen, and that a genuine free and fair election is held in the Eastern Province. I respectfully submit that this a duty which you owe the country.