Leaders of all Sri Lankan religions committed to holding free and peaceful elections

Colombo, Sri Lanka - A delegation from the Interfaith Coalition for the prevention of electoral conflicts in Sri Lanka has asked all candidates involved in the elections of 8 April and citizens for a conduct respectful of the rights and standards to ensure the right to each to choose and vote freely and without interference. Representatives of different faiths made the call at a midday press conference held at the Nippon Hotel in Colombo last March 30.

Mgr Kumara Illangasinghe, Bishop of Kurunegala, noted that the interfaith group "is the only guide and representative" of all faiths and the conviction against any threat or violence to influence the vote is shared. The prelate stressed the importance of this joint initiative to ensure the expression of a free and informed vote.

The Buddhist Monk Venerable Weligama Dhammissara Thero noted that in Sri Lanka is home to the four most popular religions (Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism) and that all teach the same message of condemnation of violence, abuse and corruption.

The Hindu religious Lakshmikanthan Jegadeeshan Kurukkal also asked all candidates and voters to act fairly and peacefully.

Mgr Illangasinghe reiterated to AsiaNews that "coexistence is important, we must work for it. All of us, as religious leaders, reject any kind of violence. We hope that those who participate in elections reject it as we do".

The Buddhist, Venerable Thero Madampagama Assaji, coordinator of the Interfaith Coalition, told AsiaNews that "we are meeting all the candidates to urge them in person for free and fair elections." The group has prepared a sticker written in Sinhalese and Tamil "Our vote for peaceful election" to stick to vehicles and places of transit.

In past elections the country has seen widespread violence and the campaign has also seen violent acts.