Questions raised as to who gave the orders; opposition sees political motives
More than one hundred police officers, including officers in charge of stations, were suddenly moved out ahead of nominations for the January 8 presidential election – while questions were being raised as to who transferred them. Police spokesperson Ajith Rohana said the officers, including 85 OICs, were being moved out but insisted no permission was required from the Commissioner of Elections to do so.
The transfers took effect on Thursday. “We do not require the permission of the Commissioner of Elections as the transfers were made before the proclamation for the election,” SSP Rohana said. The main political parties on Friday met Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya and raised concerns about the possibility of police transfers in the coming weeks.
The Commissioner had assured them he would discuss the matter with Inspector General N.K. Illangakoon and also secure a list of the names and stations police officers were currently serving.
Party representatives at the meeting charged that recent transfers of more than one hundred police officers were made without the approval of the IGP. They claimed that the list had been recommended by the Law and Order Ministry Secretary Mahinda Balasuriya and signed by a DIG. Commissioner Deshapriya said he could not take action regarding transfers made prior to the announcement of elections.
The opposition parties also raised issues regarding allocation of grounds to conduct public meetings. They said it was difficult to reserve playgrounds as most of them came under local authorities controlled by the UPFA. The Commissioner said he would intervene and take action in such cases. Mr. Deshapriya also said he would introduce special criteria for the campaign activities in which limitations would be made on number of cutouts and the size of cutouts displayed by candidates.
The Commissioner said Commonwealth monitors would be invited for the polls. Peoples Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) Executive Director Rohana Hettiarachchi said the Elections Commissioner had agreed that his group could invite 35 foreign monitors.
By S. Rubatheesan