United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on Sri Lanka’s political parties to abide by the official results of the presidential election and to pursue any concerns peacefully. He also said the election had been relatively free of violence.

“I realise that the election has been quite a hard-fought one,” said Mr. Ban. “I had been concerned at the level of violence during the campaign. I am relieved that the vote appears to have [been] relatively peaceful, despite some violent incidents.”

He appealed to political parties to abide by the decision and rules and regulations. “I truly hope that all sides will see the wisdom of acting with restraint and responsibility in the interest of the nation. This would bode well for future elections and national harmony.”

Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE), a Sri Lanka-based NGO that monitored the presidential poll process, appealed to all parties concerned to accept the people’s verdict. Representatives of the Association of Asian Election Authorities, who is here on invitation from the Election Commission, said the Election Commissioner had acted impartially.

Earlier in the day, General (retired) Sarath Fonseka, who had been the opposition candidate, returned to his residence from a local hotel where he had been staying. At a news conference, he said that after the withdrawal of his entire security contingent, he has been compelled to hire 15 personnel from private security agencies.

General (retired) Fonseka had checked into the hotel in the early hours of Wednesday citing security concerns. From there, he had accused President Mahinda Rajapaksa of “stealing the election” and “plotting to eliminate him”.

Ironically, the legitimacy of the outcome of the election was not questioned with equal enthusiasm by the opposition parties that had backed him. Besides, the “discovery” that the retired General had not deemed it necessary to enrol himself as a voter and its adverse impact among the people seems to have clearly embarrassed his supporters. The issue is particularly delicate as the island nation is to witness a general election in April. Opposition leaders are believed to have counselled the General to act with restraint after the drama at the hotel as any further rash move could adversely impact their prospects.

Meanwhile, at a news conference here a senior officer connected with the Terrorist Investigation Department (TID) told reporters that they had arrested a high-profile member of the LTTE. Identified as Subraaniam Shivkumar alias Rajan, he was described as a close aide of LTTE leader Velupillai Prabakaran.

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