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 Post subject: Polls postponed in Lanka’s Tamil areas
 Post Posted: Tue Mar 21, 2006 1:48 am 
Polls postponed in Lanka’s Tamil areas

PK Balachandran / @ HT
Colombo, March 20, 2006


The Sri Lankan Election Commission has postponed the local bodies elections in six Tamil-speaking districts of the North and East to September 30, according to an Election Commission official.

The elections were to be held on March 30 along with polls in the rest of the country.

But since these were disturbed areas, some entirely out of the reach of the Sri Lankan police, the mandatory police security could not be provided to the polling booths.

And if security could not be provided, the elections could not be held, as per the local bodies election law, an official said.

The number of local bodies affected is 45, including the Municipal Council of Jaffna.

The districts denied elections are Jaffna, Mullaitivu, Vavuniya, Mannar and Batticaloa.

Elections will, however, be held in the Trincomalee and Amparai districts where the security situation is more conducive.

The last time local bodies elections were held in the North East was in 1998. Since then, government has been running these institutions through its officials.

The LTTE-backed Tamil National Alliance (TNA) had been asking for a postponement of the elections this time too citing a bad security situation.

TNA MPs, voicing the concerns of the LTTE, had been telling President Mahinda Rajapaksa that since the Sri Lankan army-backed "Tamil paramilitary" forces like the Karuna group were on the prowl in the North East, the elections there would not be free and fair.

The non-LTTE Tamil parties have, however, been demanding the polls.

An anti-LTTE Tamil leader, Dr K Vigneswaran said that if the people of the North East were not given their democratic rights, they would be forced into the arms of the LTTE.

Absence of elections would only serve the purpose of the LTTE, which wanted to exercise total dominance over the people of the North East, even in areas outside their direct control, Dr Vigneswaran pointed out.


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