Supporters of Sri Lanka’s ruling party has repeatedly violated election laws in the run-up to Thursday’s presidential vote and has largely got away with it because police have turned a blind eye, a local polling monitor said on Tuesday. The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) said there had been “unparalleled misuse of state resources and media” by the party of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, whose bid for a third term could be upset by an unexpected challenger from within his own ranks, Mithripala Sirisena. “There was impunity. No action was taken against the perpetrators or actions were mild,” Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, a convener of the CMEV, told reporters. He said police inaction had allowed election-related violence to mount, adding that most of those responsible were local councillors from Rajapaksa’s party.
CMEV, one of three main local monitor groups, said it had documented 420 incidents of violence and intimidation since the poll was announced in November. In one case this week, decapitated dogs’ heads were delivered to the houses of two human rights activists who are known critics of the government.
Police spokesman Ajith Rohana said the level of violence had been much lower than during previous elections and actions had been taken against perpetrators, including two deputy ministers.