Army deployed as pre-poll violence increases in Sri Lanka
Thu August 21, 2008 05:52 EDT .
Colombo (dpa) - The army has been deployed in two Sri Lankan provinces where elections are scheduled Saturday after a spate of pre-poll violence, including shootings and the burnings of vehicles and buildings.
The army has been sent to North-Central province, 180 kilometres north-east of Colombo, and Sabaragamuwa province, 100 kilometres south-east of the capital, after a request from the commissioner of elections, military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said Thursday.
On Wednesday, the office of a key opposition group was set on fire, party offices and vehicles were attacked, and the brother of a ruling party minister and a ruling party minister's personal assistant were shot and injured in a series of incidents.
Monitors said Thursday that election violence had increased suddenly with more than 75 cases being reported in the previous two days. A total of 250 incidents - including attacks on party offices, shootings, attacks on supporters and cases of intimidation - have been reported in the past six weeks.
The government has been campaigning for support in its ongoing military campaign against separatist Tamil rebels, favouring a vote for the ruling United People's Freedom Alliance.
But the main opposition United National Party (UNP) has been critical of the government for trying to politicize the military campaign by trying to set deadlines to suit the election campaign.
The two main parties have thrown their resources into the election campaign with the government making use of state vehicles and public offices for the campaigning, in apparent violation of election laws, and the UNP drawing in a large number of supporters from outside the two provinces voting at the weekend.
About 2.1 million voters are eligible to vote in Saturday's polls, which were called by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. They are to elect members of two councils that handle development in the two provinces. dpa ad jh lsDiscuss this story
Published: Thu Aug 21 07:20:53 EDT 2008