A Sri Lankan election watchdog charges that the ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) government is using violence to deter opposition political activities. Election monitor Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) says that in parallel to electoral level campaigning by the common opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena there is an increase in UPFA propagated election violence. The election monitor observes that this trend is reaching systematic proportions and slowly turning into a wave of political violence. Up to December 31st CaFFE has received 1007 incidents of election law violations and election violence and 105 of them are election violence which includes 19 incidents of firearms usage. The CaFFE has noted that the government has unleashed a systematic campaign of intimidation to intimidate opposition supporters. When Common Opposition Candidate Maithripala Sirisena holds a rally, election related violence spikes in the related area targeting opposition activists and infrastructure, the monitor observes.
CaFFE has compiled a list of such incidents in areas where Sirisena held rallies. A look at the list clearly shows that violence follows Sirisena and that police have taken little action to assure the safety of opposition activists and their property, CaFFE Executive Director Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon said.
Drawing attention to several incidents of attacks on opposition election offices and rallies in Eastern Province in the past few days, CaFFE points out that for example, there was virtually no political campaigning in the Northern and Eastern province until a few days ago and there were no incidents of violence. However after Common Opposition Candidate stated that he will hold a series of rallies in the Eastern Province this week, a number of election related incidents of violence has taken place.