Chandrikasupports Fonseka

Setback to Rajapaksa ahead of Jan 26 poll


Hours after the campaigning ended for the crucial January 26 polls in the post-LTTE era, Rajapaksa suffered a defection on Sunday when the matriarch of his coalition and ex-President Chandrika Kumaratunga supported former army chief Gen Fonseka during a meeting at Horagolla, media reports said.

“The prevailing violence and the breakdown in law and order poses a serious challenge to democracy, democratic institutions and values, as well as all the basic freedoms we cherish and have protected with great sacrifice over the centuries,” 64-year-old Kumaratunga said in a statement.
“I know of no better system of government than that founded and formed on democracy and freedom,” she said.

Meanwhile, law enforcement agencies on Sunday deployed over 68,000 policemen and warned against public gatherings near polling centres.
Under the Presidential Election Act, 1981, any person indulging in rally or meeting would be dealt with immediate affect, senior DIG of the police elections unit, Gamini Navaratna, said. The police will be supplemented by additional support from members of the armed forces. There are over 14 million voters in Sri Lanka.
All police teams have been given strict orders to arrest people gathering within a 500-metres radius of any polling centre and also to apprehend any person found to be intimidating voters.

Navarna also said there are no immediate plans to have a police curfew during the elections as, according to him, they do not expect any serious mass scale incidents to break out, a local media reports said.
Special additional security arrangements have been put in place in the north and eastern provinces, Inspector General of Police Mahinda Balasuriya said.
The campaigning for crucial elections ended on Saturday. Putting behind the fears of the vanquished LTTE, the public participated in a big way in the election campaigns with songs, dance and processions in well decorated vehicles during the last days of campaigning.

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