Police seek arrest of former Sri Lankan minister

Colombo, Oct 15 (IANS) Police in Sri Lanka Monday said that they have sought a court approval to arrest the country's opposition legislator and former foreign minister Mangala Sawaraweera.

Police have filed an appeal relating to Samaraweera's alleged involvement in a recent clash during an opposition rally in Matara town in south, Xinhua reported citing police spokesperson Ajith Rohana.

At least seven people were injured recently when supporters of opposition United National Party (UNP) leader Ranil Wickremesinghe clashed with another group of UNP supporters demanding that Wickremesinghe step down as party leader.

Television footage showed men with poles who were demonstrating in support of Wickremesinghe, attacking the other group and then one member of the other group opening fire.

Samaraweera, a UNP member, has been accused of being involved in the attack on the group which protested against Wickremesinghe.

"There was no warrant for the arrest but he can be arrested anytime as the police got clearance from the (Matara) court," the spokesperson said.

Police have already arrested 30 suspects for their involvement in the clash. More arrests are likely.

There has been growing division within the UNP after Wickremesinghe, a former prime minister, lost consecutive elections since 2005.

The party had recently decided to have a meeting between Wickremesinghe and two leading UNP members Sajith Premadasa and Karu Jayasuriya in order to end the divisions in the UNP.

There is popular support for Premadasa to take over as party leader but Wickremesinghe has refused to step down from the leadership post.


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