The US Ambassador in Sri Lanka Patricia Butenis says the US would like to see Sri Lankans campaign for the candidate of their choice, debate issues important to Sri Lanka and freely vote for whomever they choose at the Presidential Elections.
In a comment regarding the polls the US Ambassador noted that this past week saw a rise in election-related violence. On Tuesday, a women was killed as she rode the bus, on Saturday another person lost his life, and there are now reports of yet another fatality occurring last night. She says those who lost their lives are not the only victims of these brutal attacks -- democracy is also a victim and such violence undermines the democratic rights and traditions of Sri Lanka.
“Over the past week, the U.S. Embassy issued two statements concerning the upcoming elections here in Sri Lanka. Those two statements underscore our key interests in this election; namely, that they are conducted freely, fairly, credibly and without violence. The U.S. is neutral in this campaign -- no matter who wins the election, the U.S. hopes to continue a strong relationship with Sri Lanka.
I would like to share some additional thoughts and perspectives. This is arguably one of the most significant elections in the history of Sri Lanka. For the first time in decades, Sri Lankans from all parts of the island can exercise their democratic right to choose the person who will lead this country. Sri Lanka has a long history of political debate, and these elections are a continuation of that tradition.
The United States has no preferred candidate in the campaign, and we take special care to ensure that our statements and actions are balanced and focus on the democratic process rather than the end result. As a democracy, we would like to see Sri Lankans take hold of this historic moment and be active in the democratic process: that they campaign for the candidate of their choice; that they debate issues important to Sri Lankas; and that they freely vote for whomever they choose. What's most important is that Sri Lankans can do all of this without the risk of violence, intimidation, or retribution.
This past week saw a rise in election-related violence. On Tuesday, a women was killed as she rode the bus, on Saturday another person lost his life, and there are now reports of yet another fatality occurring last night. Those who lost their lives are not the only victims of these brutal attacks -- democracy is also a victim. Such violence undermines the democratic rights and traditions of Sri Lanka.
We commend the Government for ordering the police to conduct a thorough investigation of all election related violence, no matter which is side is targeted.
As we enter the final week of the campaign, I sincerely hope that violence subsides and that on January 26th, Sri Lankans can vote without violence and intimidation, reaffirming the democratic traditions in a now united and peaceful Sri Lanka,” Ambassador Butenis said.