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Last updated: 25 April, 2009 - Published 15:08 GMT
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End war against media - UNP
Ranil Wickramasinghe (photo: Elmo Fernando)
UNP leader urges government to 'end war against journalists'
The main opposition in Sri Lanka has urged the government to "end war against media" as the government is winning the war against the Tamil Tigers.

Opposition and United National Party (UNP) leader, Ranil Wickramasinghe, said that he expects "the government will stop the war against journalists as the war is now coming to an end".

Speaking to journalists in Colombo, he said the UNP is hopeful of winning the Western Provincial Council (WPC) elections held on Saturday.

The ruling and opposition parties and election monitors have all admitted that the polling in three districts have been mainly peaceful.

'Terrorising' minority voters

However, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) accused the authorities of intimidating minority voters in the run up to the polls.

Minister Susil Premjayantha
UPFA predicts a comfortable win at the WPC elections

SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem told BBC Sandeshaya that authorities used "state terror" using underworld elements to get minority votes in Colombo suburbs.

The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) echoed similar accusations.

JVP Colombo district leader Duminda Nagamuwa told BBC’s Elmo Fernando that the government is "terrorising" opposition parties using the war against the LTTE as a pretext.

The UNP has accused the ruling United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) of threatening polling booth agents of opposition parties.

Denying the accusation, UPFA general secretary, Education Minister Susil Premjayantha said there was no need for the polling agents as nobody could vote without an identity card.

ID cards

However, many voters were prevented exercising their democratic right as a result, says the monitoring group Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE).

CaFFE says many could not vote as ID cards were mandatory

“We are concerned that many people could not vote as they did not have identity cards,” CaFEE spokesman Keerthi Tennakoon told BBC Sandeshaya after the elections.

Udaya Gammanpila, a UPFA candidate who represents Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) said that the West is afraid to overthrow popular governments after "experience in Vietnam".

Dr. Vickramabahu Karunarathne, leader of the Left Front, said the voters were not keen on casting their vote on Saturday.

He accused the government of "imprisoning" over 200,000 people in camps while accusing the LTTE of keeping the civilians as a human shiled.

The leader of the Western Peoples Front, Mano Ganeshan, said the WPC election was an important platform for the Tamil minority in Colombo to express their opinion on the current situation in Sri Lanka.

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