Amid allegations that armed groups are operating in the East, the Elections Department has written to Police Chief N.K. Ilangakoon directing him to have the weapons issued to some political parties or individuals returned to the police, officials said yesterday.
The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has raised concerns that its candidates and supporters in the East were under threat from some groups which support the ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA).
When asked for a comment, Additional Elections Commissioner R.M.A.L. Ratnayake said such a situation had prevailed at the beginning but it had been brought under control.
“However, if weapons have been issued to some political parties or individuals, we want the Police Chief have them returned ahead of the election,” he said.
Meanwhile, the US said it hoped the provincial council elections would be free and fair and pledged it would support the democratic process here.
A US embassy spokesman told Daily Mirror that his Government hoped that Sri Lankans would select the leaders of their choice through transparent and fair elections.
The spokesman was responding to a query about allegations that there were barriers to free and fair elections, particularly in the East.
When asked for a comment, Bernard Savage who is the European Union High Commissioner for Sri Lanka and Maldives said the Union fully supported open, free and transparent elections in the world as a whole.
“What we are saying is not something particularly meant for Sri Lanka,” he said.
After a visit to the east, Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya is expected to meet representatives of political parties on August 3, to take stock of the situation in the East. (Kelum Bandara)