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Last updated: 17 January, 2010 - Published 13:08 GMT
 
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US, Norway deny bribery charges
 
Mr. Weerawansa (l) with former US Ambassador in Colombo, Robert Blake (file photo)
NFF has accused United States and Norway of offering money to the main opposition to bribe pro-government lawmakers

The United States and Norwegian government have denied allegations by pro-government politicians of favoring the main opposition candidate.

A parliamentarian from National Freedom Front (NFF) has told media on Friday that he was offered 30 million rupee bribe by supporters of Gen Sarath Fonseka to defect.

The money has come from the US and Norwegian embassies, MJ Muzamil, MP, has said.

Meanwhile, the leader of the NFF, Wimal Weerawansa, MP, has told state media that the Norwegian government has provided large some of money to engineer the defection.

 The United States is neutral and we strongly condemn allegations that we are supporting one side over another
 
US embassy in Colombo

The United States has once again called for a free and fair election without violence.

“The United States is neutral and we strongly condemn allegations that we are supporting one side over another,” the US embassy in Colombo said in a statement.

“We will work with whomever wins the election to strengthen our longstanding partnership and we will maintain our support for a peaceful, prosperous and democratic Sri Lanka,” it added.

Many defections

Mr. Muzamil who was about to co-host a media briefing at Gen Fonseka’s office in Colombo on Friday, has hurriedly left the place accusing Gen Fonseka’s supporters of fraudulent activity.

The NFF, a breakaway group of Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), was offered two ministerial portfolios when it recently joined Mahinda Rajapaksa administration.

 Norway has never – and will never – interfere in an election in another country
 
Norwegian embassy in Colombo

The Norwegian government, the former peace facilitator between the Sri Lanka government and the LTTE, has also denied the accusations by the NFF.

“The accusation is untrue and totally unacceptable. Norway has never – and will never – interfere in an election in another country,” a statement by the embassy said.

The United States and Norway were members of the donor co-chairs of Sri Lanka’s failed peace process with the Tamil Tigers.

Many parliamentarians and senior politicians have been defecting to opposing sides at the run up to 26 January elections.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his former military commander, Gen Fonseka, are the main contenders; twenty other candidates are also in the race.

 
 
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