Sri Lanka polls violence warning

COLOMBO, Dec 03, 2014 (EconomyNext) – Opposition politicians and election monitors have warned of violence ahead of Sri Lanka’s presidential polls set for January 8, 2015.

"This election has the potential to be one of the most violent," said Udaya Gammanpila, a former provincial minister from the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU – National Heritage Party), which recently left the ruling coalition.

"As the campaign picks up, so will the violence," he told reporters.

Uncertainty caused by the snap poll, in which President Mahinda Rajapaksa is challenged by his former health minister Maithripala Sirisena who defected from the ruling coalition along with other ministers has triggered a slump in the stock market.

Sirisena is standing as the common candidate of a grouping of key opposition parties who have closed ranks to prevent Rajapaksa’s bid for an unprecedented third term.

Sirisena has promised to "restore rule of law" if he wins the January 8 poll and make constitutional changes to give back independence to institutions like the police and judiciary.

The private election monitoring group Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CAFFE) has reported at least eight serious polls-related incidents since polls were announced two weeks ago.

CAFFE director Keerthi Tennakoon said about six people have been admitted to hospital and many others hurt in clashes sparked by government supporters.

Police have failed to arrest anyone over the attacks despite CCTV and photographic evidence being available on the assailants, he said.

Police have said they are investigating the clashes.
 

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