Requesting voters not to cast their votes for candidates with criminal records, the Lanka National Federation of the Self-Employed (LNFSE) claimed that nearly 65% of the candidates who have been nominated from the United National Party (UNP), Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) and Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) for the forthcoming local government elections were noted criminals. The LNFSE, with a membership of 178,000 three-wheel owners and 22,000 self-employed professionals, has commenced a voter awareness campaign on selecting educated and respectable candidates in their respective electorates.
“Over 51 candidates who were given nominations in the Western Province are drug dealers, underworld kingpins and illegal liquor sellers,” said LNFSE President Sunil Jayawardena. According to LNFSE findings, more than 10 candidates who are drug dealers, underworld gangsters and illegal liquor dealers are contesting for a place in the Colombo Municipality while five from Kotte and one from Kesbawe are also among those who have been given nominations.
“We put the blame on the leaders of these political parties – President Maithiripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe, G.L. Peiris and Anura Kumara Dissanayake - for giving nominations to these criminals. The crime rate is increasing daily and how can the Police and the Grama Seva Niladaris take action against criminals in their respective areas if these criminals who are leading illegal businesses are the people’s representatives?” Jayawardena asked.
He told the Daily FT that the LNFSE would tomorrow give the Elections Commission a list of names of candidates who have criminal records, their illegal businesses, their respective political parties and the areas that they represent.
Jayawardena said that the LNFSE accused the SLFP and the SLPP of giving nominations to two close relatives of two of the most wanted underworld leaders in the Southern Province.
“President Sirisena gave the nomination to the sister of the underworld gang leader, who was issued a red notice, from Akuressa and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa has given the nomination to the mother of another underworld kingpin who is also from Akuressa. How can people have hope of any Government trying to stop criminals becoming the people’s representatives?” he queried.
Jayawardena said that if this trend continued, the country would face a serious situation where criminals cum politicians would influence the country’s legal system.
“People expected that this trend would be changed under the Yahapalana Government with nominations being given to educated people of a suitable calibre to represent the people. Instead, the situation has gotten worse than before and this is the election which has fielded the highest number of candidates who are drug dealers, underworld gangsters and illegal liquor sellers to get more votes at the forthcoming elections,” he said, adding that the LNFSE had already requested their members families, relatives and friends not to exercise their franchise to elect any candidate with a criminal record.
“We will soon expose all the names of those who have a criminal record,” Jayawardena said.