Sri Lankan govt denies using state resources to skew poll

elections deptSri Lanka’s government has denied allegations made by a group of independent monitors that it is using state resources to give an unfair advantage to President Mahinda Rajapaksa who is running for an unprecedented third term in next month’s election.

The seven observer groups, some of which are funded by foreign non-governmental organisations, on Thursday raised concerns that the ruling party was exploiting public services and employees and that the police were ignoring complaints. “These are wild accusations. If there is a basis for those allegations, they should take action,” government spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said.

Police spokesman Ajith Rohana rejected charges that police were biased towards any candidate, adding: “There can be delays, but we totally deny inaction and the allegations.”

Rajapaksa, president of the Indian Ocean island state since 2005, had been expected to win re-election easily until the emergence last month of his former health minister, Mithripala Sirisena, as the opposition’s common candidate to challenge him.

The International Crisis Group, an independent conflict-prevention organisation, said in a report this week that the unexpectedly strong challenge had raised the “likelihood of election-related violence and fraud in an increasingly authoritarian political context, where all state institutions are under the tight control” of Rajapaksa. (Reuters)

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