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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Sri Lanka: Wayamba flooded with unmarked vehicles

Election monitoring groups have brought to the notice of the Commissioner of Elections, that a number of unregistered vehicles are being driven in the North-Western Province (NWP), which they alleged, are being used to unleash violence in the area, posing a threat to law and order.

The Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) and People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL), had brought to the notice of Elections Commissioner, Mahinda Deshapriya, when the latter had met political party leaders and election monitors at his office on Friday (13), that a large number of vehicles without number plates are plying on the roads in the Province.

Deshapriya had noted that the presence of unmarked or unregistered vehicles has come down remarkably, at which point, election monitors had voiced their objection to the statement, while pointing out that though it had come down comparatively in the Kurunegala District, in the Puttalam District, however, such vehicles have been observed to be roaming freely.

The leaders of ruling party, the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA), who had appeared reluctant to accept this allegation, had challenged the monitors to take legal action, if they can prove their statement.

However, the monitors had provided tangible evidence to the Elections Commissioner, by showing images of such vehicles plying on the roads in the said areas. Reportedly, at the same time, Deshapriya had been notified by an official from the Department of Elections in Chilaw, that some unregistered vehicles were seen in the Marawila area.

Shortly after the meeting with the Elections Commissioner had concluded, a group of UPFA supporters, who were returning from an election rally addressed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, had come under attack in the Bangadeniya area, which was allegedly carried out by a group that had come in vehicles displaying garage numbers. Eight people who were injured in the assault were admitted to the Marawila Hospital. One of them, Anushka Pinto, who is in a critical condition, has been transferred to the National Hospital in Colombo.

Meanwhile, CaFFE Executive Director, Keerti Tennakoon, in a letter to Elections Commissioner, Mahinda  Deshapriya, had stated that it was the same candidate who has been widely accused of slashing a supporter of the UNP candidate, Ashok Priyantha, with a sword.

“Supporters of UPFA candidate, Sumal Tissera, had come to the Wanatavilluwa area to facilitate transportation for a group, who had attended the meeting addressed by the President. They were assaulted by UPFA candidate, Sanath Nishantha’s supporters in the Bangadeniya area. The police have failed to arrest anyone in connection with both incidents, so far,” he said.

While noting that Sumal Tissera is related to Ministers Felix Perera and Dayashritha Tissera, CaFFE said, inaction by law enforcing institutions has risked the lives of those politicians who are not engaging in violence in the course of their campaigns.

In his letter to the Elections Commissioner, Tennakoon has asked whether candidate Sanath Nishantha is above the law, as the police had failed to take action against him
 By Gagani Weerakoon


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