Army Denies Interference Claims
By Camelia Nathaniel
The military has denied allegations that it interfered in the Northern elections and intimidated voters.
Speaking to The Sunday Leader Military Spokesman Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasuriya said that it is ‘comical’ to see that the Army is accused of hindering the elections in the North whereas the voter turnout was highest in the North. “The people have answered in more than adequate terms that they were free to vote and that the elections were held in a fair manner, by voting the TNA in.”
He also vehemently denied allegations of Army personnel being in civil attire stating that the Army does not permit its personnel to carry weapons while out of uniform. “There is a system of issuing weapons to soldiers and they only issue them weapons while on duty.
Therefore it is a baseless allegation made merely on their short hair cut, by those who are trying to tarnish the image of the Army,” he added. When asked about reports by certain election monitors claiming that the Army had been seen in civil clothes carrying weapons he said, “I am not contesting the validity of the election monitors’ report in any way but this report needs careful scrutiny and I am sure the Elections Department will no doubt do that,” he said.
He further added that although terrorism has been defeated, the ideology is very much alive and the largest proponents are part of the Diaspora. “There is a considerable number of LTTE cadres still at large having radicalised minds which could in fact be influenced by those propagating the separatist ideology. We are aware of these threats and will take precautions to prevent a recurrence of war,” added the spokesman.
When asked if the Army is going to continue the same work in the North Brigadier Wanigasuriya said that the Army’s involvement in any project or any involvement in development activities would be decided by the Central government and the Ministry of Defence will give instructions if required. “The Army is not going to take any leading role in any development activity.
We played a rather leading role immediately after the war when civilian establishments were still fledglings, and until the civil administrative was ready and fully established. However now that the civil administration is fully in motion the Army need not play a leading role in civil matters unless instructed by the government,” he said.