Sri Lanka Military Denies Dabbling in Politics


Sri Lanka's military Thursday rejected opposition allegations that it had deployed troops to campaign for President Mahinda Rajapakse's re-election.

Military spokesman Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasooriya denied opposition claims that soldiers were distributing material in support of the President who is seeking an unprecedented third term at the January 8 elections.

"The statement that the army has employed soldiers for election-related propaganda is baseless and extremely presumptuous," Wanigasooriya said.

The main opposition United National Party (UNP) Thursday accused army chief Daya Ratnayake of deploying troops to campaign for Rajapakse and said his conduct will be reported to the international community.

"The deployment of soldiers for such political work is destroying the dignity of the uniform," UNP spokesman Mangala Samaraweera told reporters in Colombo Thursday.

He accused the army chief of including election propaganda leaflets in soldiers' pay packets last month, an allegation denied by Brigadier Wanigasooriya.

Wanigasooriya told AFP they would investigate the claim if the opposition provided "information on any such instances".

Rajapakse, who is also the commander in chief of armed forces, faces allegations that his troops killed at least 40,000 Tamil civilians in the final stages of the country's Tamil separatist war in 2009. Colombo has resisted international moves to probe Colombo's war record.

Rajapakse called the snap election two years ahead of schedule after his party's popularity dropped a sharp 21 points at a local election in September.

The Brussels-based International Crisis Group said in a report last week that Rajapakse was facing an unexpectedly strong challenge from his former health minister Sirisena, who has secured wide opposition support.

"The sudden emergence of a strong opposition candidate caught many, including President Rajapakse, by surprise," the ICG said.

It warned the election could turn ugly and called for the international community to send monitors to observe the campaign and deter any violence.

Both the election chief and private monitors have accused the government of exploiting state assets as well as personnel in support of the president.

Comments 4
Default-user-icon Nawaz Dawood (Guest) 18 December 2014, 19:21

I do not understand why you have to say unprecedented third term when referring to Sri Lankan elections. Britain, Canada, Australia all had executive prime ministers getting elected several times and you guys never referred to it as unprecedented. In the US there are Senators who have been elected for the 12th time, and there is no unprescident about it. Though our constitution first read as two terms because President Jayawardana was so old go beyond it, the clause has been removed by two thirds majority in the house. It is electorate which will decide whether the president cannot rule not some academic. Also I do not understand why foreign election monitors to Sri Lanka. Do they get Sri Lankan monitors to conduct their elections? Hanging ballots of US during Bushe's term is a good incident. Let these countries conduct their own affairs unless they seek assistance from other countries.

Default-user-icon Ziggy (Guest) 18 December 2014, 19:30

Sri Lanka.....only god can help! MR wins, even god can't help.

Default-user-icon Srivan (Guest) 18 December 2014, 23:45

Of course misuse of army cannot be ruled out in a badly failed state. Denial is their modus operandi!

Default-user-icon Srivan (Guest) 18 December 2014, 23:46

Denial is their modus operandi!