Catholic church condemns rigged elections
[TamilNet, Friday, 29 January 1999, 19:05 GMT]
The head of Sri Lanka's Catholic Church, Arch Bishop Nicholas Markus Fernando, lashed out at the PA regime this evening for cheating at the Northwestern provincial council elections which were concluded on Monday January 25. Political observers in Colombo said that the arch bishop's attack is unprecedented and exceptionally harsh.
They said his views appear to have been well thought out for they were released this evening as a communiqué by the Catholic church.
The arch bishop condemned the manner in which the PA had conducted the elections to the northwestern provincial council while addressing the annual prize giving of St.Peters college, a catholic male school in Bambalapitiya, a suburb of Colombo this evening.
The following are excerpts from his speech:
"On Monday the 25th of January this year the people of Wayamba (Northwest) woke up from their sleep and suddenly realised that they had become second class citizens of Sri Lanka. For all political purposes, their democratic right to vote had been taken away from them. It was an ironic memorial to fifty years of independence in Sri Lanka. The people of Wayamba demand, as their right, a fresh election.
I wish to touch upon a subject which is of great topical and national interest. A few days ago we had an election- if indeed it can be called an election-in the northwestern province. Surviving that event was like winning a war. We heard people speaking of violence and fraud in the past. Certainly nobody justifies wrong doings of the past. But there is so much that is ugly, hypocritical and immoral in the present, that there is no need to hark back to the past. Violence and fraud can never be justified. We want deeds, not words.
"One should honestly ask 'Can any governing body that grabbed power by blatantly unethical means win the respect of the governed? Is such a body morally legitimate?'. The fabric of our national life is coming apart. We cannot go on like this. I dread to think of what would happen to our country if we were to face a few more exercises of this type. People will lose all confidence in the democratic process....We are experiencing a prolonged war in the north and east. An unfortunate side effect of this war is the culture of violence that is gradually gripping our country. As long as the war lasts- with its rhetoric and political jostling, its deserters and fire-arms, its news bulletins and killings- we cannot think of overcoming this culture of violence. Thus ending the war is another imperative. Marred elections, leading to further frustration, are not likely to help that process." the arch bishop said.