Batticaloa district polls despite objections
Despite objections by two main minority parties and reservations by polls officials, the Government will go ahead with elections to nine local councils in the Batticaloa district, Local Government Minister Janaka Bandara Tennakoon said.
Nominations for the elections to one municipal council and eight Pradeshiya Sabhas will be called between January 16 and 21, the minister said. More than 270,000 are registered as voters in these areas.
However Batticaloa’s Assistant Elections Commissioner Krishna Nandalingam said the situation in the East was not yet conducive for an election due to the large number of displaced persons in the area.“More than 18,000 people are still displaced and living in temporary camps,” he said.
Mr. Nandalingam said if the elections were to be held, voting would have to be done under a cluster system.
The TNA and the SLMC have expressed reservations over what they see as a rush to hold elections, saying it would not be a “free and fair’ poll due to the large number of displaced persons.
Jaffna District parliamentarian N. Srikantha said this would be one of the worst elections as the people would not be able to freely exercise their votes and candidates would not be able to freely campaign.“There have been a lot of abductions and killings with the Pillaiyan group roaming in the East,” he said.
The MP said his party would go to courts to prevent the elections because of the unfavourable condition in the area.
Meanwhile yesterday the EPDP held a meeting with members of the TMVP – (Pilllaiyan group), PLOTE and EPRLF (Pathmanaba wing). It was decided there that they would contest the elections under one banner.
EPDP sources in Batticaloa told The Sunday Times that a follow-up meeting would be held on January 5th to finalize arrangements for the election campaign.