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Sri Lanka Timeline - Year 2015



January 5

The campaign for the upcoming presidential polls in Sri Lanka ended with sporadic violence having marred the final day. Three opposition activists were injured when unidentified gunmen shot and injured them while they were engaged in putting up a dais for the opposition leader, Maithripala Sirisena, on the final day of campaigning in the southern town of Kahawatte in Ratnapura District.

The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on the Sri Lankan government again to ensure a peaceful election that is inclusive of minorities. Responding to a media query on the election violence in the run-up to the election Presidential election on January 08, Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General, said the Secretary General's call to the Government to ensure that the elections are peaceful and that they're inclusive, including for minorities is much more important now on the backdrop of the election violence.

A clash between supporters of the UPFA and the NDF at Rambukkana in Kegalle District had left four government supporters injured and one Opposition supporter injured. The NDF supporter with cut injuries was admitted to the Kegalle hospital while the four injured UPFA supporters have been admitted to the Rambukkana hospital. Five persons have been taken into custody in connection with the incident along with a firearm they had in their possession, Police said. Three vehicles and several shops were also attacked.

January 6

The CMEV said there had been a rise in major incidents of election violence between November 20 and January 5 whereas the number of incidents of election violence seemed to have dropped when compared to the previous elections. The CMEV Coordinating Secretary D.M. Dissanayake said it had documented 420 incidents of election violence with 237 categorised as major incidents while 183 as minor incidents. He said the highest number of major incidents was reported from Jaffna District with 22 incidents followed by Badulla, Kurunegala and Kandy with 19, 18 and 17 incidents respectively. Dissanayake said CMEV had recorded 26 incidents involving firearms and 03 incidents of petrol bombings. He said CMEV had recorded 132 incidents of gross misuse of State resources for election purposes with excessive use of State media by the incumbent and very limited airtime for opposition candidates.

Pakiasothy Saravanamuttu from the CMEV at a media briefing, said that concerns have been raised that voter intimidation on election day will lead to a low voter turnout, especially in the North. Saravanamuttu said that communities and political leaders have raised concerns about the vote in the north in particular and about the deployment of security forces that could have an adverse impact on the voter turnout.

January 7

The victim of the shooting incident at an opposition rally in Kahawatta on January 5, succumbed to his injuries. The victim, one of the three people, who were shot by the supporters of the Deputy Minister Premalal Jayasekara, has been treated in the Intensive care Unit at the Ratnapura Hospital for the past three days. The other two persons who received gunshot injuries are still receiving treatment at Ratnapura hospital.

Sri Lanka's Commissioner of Elections Mahinda Deshapriya said the Police are empowered to use maximum force if anyone tries anything unlawful at the polling stations during tomorrow's presidential election. Addressing a media briefing, the Election Commissioner the Police had been given authority to use maximum power, even shooting a violator, if any one tries to intimidate or attempts to obstruct a voter using their right to vote.

The Sri Lankan government said the UN recent call to the government to ensure that the elections are peaceful and inclusive, is "gratuitous and inappropriate." Issuing a statement, the External Affairs Ministry said Sri Lanka notes with concern the recent remarks by the Spokesperson of the Secretary-General of the UN recalling the Secretary-General's call to the Government to ensure that the forthcoming Presidential elections are peaceful and inclusive. "The Spokesperson's comments are gratuitous and inappropriate," the statement said.

January 8

A high voter turnout was reported at the just concluded 2015 Presidential elections, based on information provided by returning officers in the Districts. Officials said that Pollonaruwa recorded 80 percent voter turnout by 4pm as the deadline to cast votes ended with Nuwara Eliya also recording 80 percent, Anuradhapura recording 76 percent, Trincomalee 72 percent, Kurunegala 77 percent, Puttalam 71 percent, Batticaloa 60 percent, Badulla 61 percent, Matara 73 percent, Kandy 75 percent, Hambantota 70 percent and Puttalam 70 percent.

The local election monitor, CMEV has received a report that ruling UPFA Deputy Minister Sarana Gunawardena and a group of supporters have hit two women in Attanagalle electorate of Gampaha District. The women were assaulted by the Deputy Minster and his supporters at around 1.00 pm near the Yatiyana Junior School polling center. The Deputy Minster and his group of supporters have been roaming the area in 7 vehicles, the CMEV report says.

Despite hospitals being alert to possible emergencies during the Presidential polls that lasted from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., no incidents were reported. Director of the National Hospital, Dr. Anil Jasinghe when contacted said that the hospital had not received any patients with injuries sustained during voting. The Hospital had functioned normally despite large number of its employees taking time off to cast their vote.

January 9

Sri Lanka's incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa conceded defeat, said his official media unit, following clear signs of his opponent Maithripala Sirisena's victory in the presidential elections. Rajapaksa vacated Temple Trees, his official residence, following a meeting with Opposition Leader Ranil Wickramasinghe, assuring him of smooth transition. With final result yet to be declared, Sirisena is expected to be declared winner by around 4,00,000 votes.

CMEV has received a report that North Central Chief Minister S.M. Ranjith and his supporters had assaulted opposition supporters in Senapura, Mihinthale. The assailants have carried wooden rods and guns. The victim, Wimalasiri A.H.M. has been admitted to the Senapura Hospital. No complaint has been lodged. The CMEV said three explosions have so far been reported on the day of polls. The first was in Point Pedro reported and a second incident involved an explosion from Beruwala targeting a house of a Muslim businessman. No injuries were reported. The third incident is from Vavuniya where a grenade exploded near the Polling Station at Nelukkulam Kalaimagal Maha Vidyalaya. No injuries were reported and the police are investigating. It has been reported in Jaffna that the members of the government ally, EPDP were intimidating TNA party members.

The winner of the 2015 Presidential Election Maithripala Sirisena was sworn in, as the 6th Executive President of Sri Lanka. Sirisena took oaths as the new President before Supreme Court Justice K. Sripavan at the Independence Square in Colombo. In his address to the nation following the swearing-in, the new President said he has no intention to seek a second term and said Sri Lanka will have friendly relations with every country. Opposition leader Ranil Wickramasinghe took oaths as the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka before Executive President Maithripala Sirisena at the same venue.

January 11

In Kandy District, after the swearing-in ceremony, the seventh President of Sri Lanka Maithripala Sirisena expressed his gratitude to those who voted for him and he was thankful to everyone who assisted to hold a peaceful election. He said it is time for a transformation society - to bring about a humane society with good governance and respect to law. He also said that this would be the only time that he would contest the Presidency.

The former LTTE leader Kumaran Pathmanathan alias KP, who was in Sri Lanka under protective custody, rejected the reports that he fled the country after the defeat of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa at last week's elections. Speaking over phone, from his orphanage at Kilinochchi in the North, the former arms procurer for the LTTE said he is still there and have no plans to leave the country.

January 19

Marxist party JVP filed a petition in court seeking the arrest of a former top leader of the LTTE Kumaran Pathmanathan alias KP. The JVP filed the petition in the Court of Appeals seeking to arrest KP, who was in protective custody under former President Mahinda Rajapaksa's Government. JVP parliamentarian Vijitha Herath said KP has to answer many questions and he needs to be arrested for his activities. KP was an international arms smuggler who procured massive loads of weapons worth billions of dollars for the terrorist organization that ravaged a deadly war for 30 years. He was involved in arms smuggling operations across Asia, Canada, US and Europe.

January 21

Former Army Commander of Sri Lanka Sarath Fonseka has been fully pardoned by the President Maithripala Sirisena. The former Army general who led the decisive war against the LTTE to end the terrorism in Sri Lanka was stripped off of his ranks and rights by the previous Government. President's Media Division said that "Fonseka has been acquitted of all charges filed against him under the previous Government and has been granted complete amnesty by President Maithripala Sirisena."It also said that the President Sirisena pardoned the former General by the powers vested in him under Article 34 of the Constitution. Accordingly, Fonseka's rank will be restored and will be entitled to all military and social privileges without any legal barrier. He will be awarded back his medals and honors.

Source:Compiled from news reports and are provisional.





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