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Opposition propaganda material removed in Kurunegala

No level playing field

by Rajitha Keerthi Tennakoon

(July 08, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Campaign for Free and fair Election (CaFFE) has identified that laws regarding election propaganda is been greatly violated in many parts of the island and that this would lead to increased violence in the coming weeks.

In Mawathagama, Kuliyapitiya and Giribewa Pradeesheeya Sabhas in Kurunegala election propaganda material of the opposition parties, especially United National Party’s and Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna’s, are being removed by the Police while material of United Peoples’ Freedom Alliance candidates are allowed to be displayed.

In addition employees of Mawathagama Pradeesheeya Sabha are deployed for election propaganda while the Pradeesheeya Sabha building is used as an election office. The fact that the government has put its immense resources behind its candidates and has instructed law enforcement agencies to act in a partisan manner has ensured that there is no level playing field leading up to the July 23 elections.

Meanwhile in Galle, Rathnapura and Anuradhapura districts billboards and hoardings of all political parties are displayed violating election laws; however the Police have taken no action about these.

Because of the competitive nature of the election some candidates have resorted to extreme measures to get an edge over the rest. A group of outsiders have been ‘imported’ to Baddegama in Galle District and they have been aggressively targeting opposition activists in the recent past. They have stoned a shop which belongs to UNP candidate Piyal Wasantha on July, 5, 2011.

However recent history has shown us that in time these groups start targeting others of the same party which appear as contenders to the top spots. Even now the highest election related incidents have occurred due to intra party clashes.

CaFFE urges the law enforcement agencies and election officials to ensure a level playing field and take action to stop election related violence which will only escalate in the coming weeks.

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