Govt. Rampage in Anuradapura

President Mahinda Rajapakse had yesterday advised candidates contesting the August 23 PC polls, their organizers and supporters to refrain from violence and retaliatory acts even when they were attacked by their contenders, said Media Minister Laksman Abeywardena Yapa at a media conference today at the Mahaveli Centre, Colombo. UPFA Secretary, Minister Susil Premjayanth and Cricket Board Chairman Arjuna Ranatunga also were present at the media conference. The government was taking all necessary measures to cope with the escalating incidents of violence and hold a free an d fair elections, Yapa said further.

He also said that the election monitoring centre has recorded 172 complaints – 93 from Anuradhapura district – so far involving all political parties and all contenders in the PC polls are responsible for the current escalation of election -related violence, he said. Minister Duminda Dissanayake’s personal assistant was shot at while going to the boutique to buy rice and the Kekirawa UPFA election office was attacked by opposition supporters, he said. Anuradhapura UNP organizer Dr.Johnpulle’s house was attacked in reprisal, he said.

The President has given very clear orders to the police and army to implement law and order sternly and the government was taking e very necessary measure to ensure free and fair elections. Answering question from a journalist on US Ambassador Robert Blake’s meeting with the Elections Commissioner, Minister Susil Premjayanth said that they never considered the meeting would in any way deter the independent decisions of the Commissioner and it was routine for the US to hold such meetings in the interests of democratic elections in the world. But during a UNP President’s regime, British Ambassador was departed as persona non–grata for showing a similar interest in elections, he said. Answering questions whether abuse of state properties and vehicles, non-implementation of the 17th amendment and partiality by the police were not causes for escalating violence, Premajayanth said that ministers have to use their official vehicles for official work and cannot be branded as abuse and the 17th amendment even if implemented would consist of a body that represents all political parties and cannot be expected to remain impartial.

When a journalist asked whether government expected opposition to keep bowing in the face of continued attacks by UPFA and the police, Premjayanth said that North Western chief ministerial candidate started his campaign with the words he fought with Prabhakaran and would do the same here. This attitude led to violence and they cannot anticipate others not to be prepared.

Meanwhile, UNP Anuradhapura district campaign manager Dr.Johnpulle said told the ‘Lanka-e-News’ that in the face of escalating incidents of violence and mounting tension in the Anuradhapura city and its neighborhood , he telephoned the police emergency division requesting them to deploy army and clamp down local curfew but his request turned into deaf ears. When complains were made to the police about the attack on Johnpulle’s house, they had reacted saying that there was a party going on in his house and there was no other problem.

The main UNP office housed at the residence of senior UNP member Dr.Johnpulle was set on fire while the final rally of the UPFA chief ministerial candidate Berty Premlal Dissanayake was taking place at Kada Panaha Junction in A’Pura. Johnpulle who was attacked with clubs had a narrow escape with minor injuries. He said that over 500 persons stormed his house and set fire to it in the presence of about 100 policemen. The mob had also set ablaze 10 vehicles parked outside his residence three of them belonging to Johnpulle while others belonged to party men. He losses sustained by him were to the tune Rs.50 million, he said. He said that the clash started when a group of motorcyclists supporting the PA had torn the cutouts of UNP chief ministerial candidate Janaka Perera placed in front of his house.

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