CaFFE Says Powerful Opposition Figures Are Being Targeted

There has been a series of attacks on opposition politicians with a considerable grass-root support, especially after the September 20 Uva Provincial Council election, and this can be a part of a broader government strategy to intimidate and create a submissive opposition before a possible presidential election, Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) stated in a media release.

CaFFE Executive Director Keerthi Tennakoon has said that last few days have seen two such incidents. One is the attack on vehicles at an event attended by UNP’s Uva provincial council Chief Ministerial candidate Harin Fernando at Giriulla, Pannala, on Sunday. This was followed by the attack on UNP MP Palitha Range Bandara’s hotel in Karuwalagaswewa on Monday, Tennakoon observed.

A vehicle convoy of the UNP was attacked on Giriulla town by government goons on Sunday (28) around 5 pm, said UNP MP Asoka Abeysinghe. No one was injured although several vehicles were damaged.

Meanwhile Bandara’s hotel is less than a kilometer from Karuwalagaswewa police and less than 25 metres from a police check point. In addition Civil Defence Force HQ Karuwalagaswewa is also located close by.

Karuwalagaswewa and Anamaduwa are two areas known for election violence and election law violations and Bandara has been subjected to continuous harassment in recent years. CaFFE recalled that the UNP MP even wrote to former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navaneetham Pillai on July 23, 2014, complaining that he has been “seriously harassed by the government and its supporters over a long period of time.”

Before the attack on the hotel, Range Bandara was involved in a heated argument with Karuwalagaswewa Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman Neil Weerasingha on Sunday after Weerasingha’s supporters allegedly destroyed two cut-outs congratulating MP Sajith Premadasa. Following the incident, the police arrested Bandara and two of his supporters although it was Weerasingha who has commenced the conflict, CaFFE stated.

CaFFE has stressed that it did not believe that neither incident were random. These attacks are targeted at opposition politicians who may pose a serious threat to the government in the national elections that will be held next year, CaFFE stated.

CaFFE has urged election officials, the law enforcement authorities and interested parties to be vigilant and take action to stop the attacks on opposition politicians and to thwart any attempts to create an uneven playing field in the coming presidential election.

© 2017 Asian Mirror (pvt) Ltd