This week’s sudden directive that foreign nationals and organisations have to obtain Defence Ministry permission to visit the North clearly indicated that the government was preparing the ground to rig the next Presidential Election,the UNP charged yesterday.
Vice Chairman of the UNP Lakshman Kiriella told The Island that the new regulation was aimed at preventing unbiased foreign monitors from observing the presidential election.
“It is crystal clear that the UPFA government is creating a situation similar to that which existed in 2005. It could in the absence of independent election officials use the security forces and other resources at its command to prevent at least a section of the Northern people from exercising their franchise which would be disadvantageous to the Joint Opposition’s Common candidate. Every vote will count since the anti Rajapaksa vote was increasing by the day,” MP Kiriella said.
Kirialle said the new restriction curtailing freedom of movement was the first of several that would follow with many peace loving members of the Tamil diaspora preparing to return to their land of birth having fled the country during the war years.
Defence Ministry Spokesman Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasooriya announced on Wednesday that foreigners and representatives of organisations who wanted to visit the North including Jaffna would have to obtain prior clearance from the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development. He said that they would have to explain the purpose of their visit.
The travel restrictions had been imposed following intelligence reports that “some groups were attempting to provoke public disturbance and conflicts among civilians in the North,” the Brigadier said.
Presidential Spokesman Mohan Samaranayake said that there was no need for the government to be rigging polls because it was on a winning streak.
He said the UNP allegation was baseless because President Rajapaksa had held the Northern Provincial Council Poll knowing very well that the Tamil National Alliance would win it.
by Zacki Jabbar