COLOMBO: Ranil Wickremesinghe, Leader of the Opposition in Sri Lankan parliament, on Thursday charged that a group of retired and serving military and police personnel are to be used to rig the January 8 Lankan Presidential election in favour of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is seeking a third term.
At a briefing here for diplomats and the foreign media, Wickremesinghe distributed a list of 34 retired top level military personnel, who are allegedly directing the operations.
He charged that these officers are liaising with serving military personnel of all ranks with a view to rigging the election in the Tamil-speaking Northern and Eastern Provinces.
The Northern and Eastern Provinces, with a large Tamil and Muslim population, is likely to vote massively for the joint opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena.
Rigging the election in the North and East is made possible by the fact that there is a very large military presence there due to the 30-year war which ended only recently in 2009.
Wickremesinghe appealed to the military officers concerned to desist from questionable activities.
“We do not mind retired military personnel indulging in active politics but they should do that openly and not indulge in any clandestine activities,” he said.
He revealed that the list had been given to former President Chandrika Kumaratunga by some serving military officers. Kumaratunga is one of the leading lights of the opposition.
Prominent names in the list are: Gen MRW de Zoysa, Admirals Daya Sandagiri, Jayanath Kolambage, H R Amaraweera, and Ruwan Dias; Majors General E Chandrasekhara, Rohan Kaduwela, V R Silva, V N Wijesinghe, Wasantha Bandara, Seevali Wanigasekara, Gamini Wanigasundara, Palitha Fernando, Wasantha Kumara, P Chandrawansha, HMHA Herath, R Samathunga, Mohan Sumanasena, Lorence Fernando, Sanath Karunaratna and S K Weerasinghe; Major Pradeep Udugoda; Capt Pradeep Perera; Deputy Inspectors General C Ramnawana and KML Sarathchandra. Human rights lawyer J C Welamuna told Express that there are three such teams.
Opposition candidate Sirisena said that he did not expect a free and fair election to take place.
If elected, he promised to restore relations with Lanka’s traditional allies (meaning Western countries), bring about the Right to Information Act, depoliticise the various arms of the government , its machinery and free the media.