Friday, 21 November 2014 01:11
Polls monitors note first attempt at intimidation pre-proclamation of elections
Police security was tightened around the temple led by Jathika Hela Urumaya Chairman Athuraliye Rathana Thero yesterday, after the premises was surrounded by an angry mob days after the party announced it was quitting ministerial positions in the ruling UPFA coalition.
Rathana Thero’s Sadhaham Sevana temple in Rajagiriya was surrounded by unidentified protestors who alleged he was illegally occupying Government land.
Election monitors have referred to the incident as the first attempt at intimidation ahead of the proclamation of snap elections by the President.
Condemning the attempt to intimidate Rathana Thero, the Campaign for Free and Fair Elections said he had been at the forefront of attempts to field a common Opposition candidate at the forthcoming polls.
“In recent times he has emerged as one of the most important critics of the Government,” the polls monitors said.
CaFFE noted that it believed the incident was part of the Government’s moves to intimidate opponents and thwart attempts to field a common candidate.
The monitors said an unidentified group have gathered near the temple in Gothami Road, Rajagiriya. Police have dispatched a number of mobile units to the site to provide security, they noted.
The JHU MP has refused to support President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s re-election bid and vowed that there would be changes within the Government over the next several days, after the poll is announced.
The main Opposition UNP yesterday in a statement condemned the attack on the Sadaham Sevana Buddhist Temple, the residence of Venerable Athureliye Rathana Thero, the parliamentarian representing the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU).
The UNP condemnation came with a profound sense of sadness and shock.
“It was only a couple of days ago the Venerable Monk and his General Secretary Champika Ranawaka made their groundbreaking announcement of leaving the present Government. No sooner than they made this announcement the hired thugs of those who have been hurt by the departure of the JHU from the governing ranks resorted to this primordial expression of anger by throwing stones at the residence of a Buddhist monk. This clearly shows how desperate the Government has become. They seem to realise that the only way to safeguard their ill-gotten privileges is by physically attacking their opponents. The United National Party is indeed shocked at this inhuman act instigated obviously by those who are close to power. The people of this country will remember this when voting time arrives,” the UNP statement added.