Eastern provincial election soon; parties consulted

Chief Minister agrees to dissolution; President in bid to revitalise SLFP
By Chris Kamalendran

President Mahinda Rajapaksa has directed members of the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) to be prepared for an early election in the Eastern Province. Eastern Provincial Council Chief Minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan said he gave his consent on Thursday to dissolve the council earlier than scheduled.

Grenade at Ranil’s meeting

Police are probing the detection of a hand grenade at a Batticaloa hotel where Opposition UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe was to attend a meeting on Friday.
The grenade was found by Mr. Wickremesinghe’s advance security officers who searched the hotel, Co-op Inn, before the meeting.

Mr. Wickremesinghe was due to meet members of the Lions Club and well-wishers on the second floor of the hotel.

The Special Task Force (STF) was alerted and the assistance of the Army was sought to defuse the grenade.

After the grenade was removed, Mr. Wickremesinghe went ahead with his meeting.

Constitutionally, the consent of the Chief Minister is required to dissolve a provincial council.
Three years after the military defeat of Tiger guerrillas, the government wants to put its popularity to the test in the East by holding provincial council elections.

Polls to other councils are to follow thereafter. With this in view, President Rajapaksa launched a campaign in Anuradhapura yesterday to recruit more members to the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP).
According to Minister and SLFP General Secretary Maithripala Sirisena, the drive is a prelude to the reorganisation of the party.

President Rajapaksa met Mr. Chandrakanthan and Minister and Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) leader Rauff Hakeem this week to discuss early elections. SLMC General Secretary Hassan Ali said the President had expressed his views on the elections, and now the party would have to decide whether it was to contest with the UPFA or under its own symbol.

“On Friday, we will launch a house-to-house campaign to ascertain views of our voters to decide whether we should contest under the SLMC ticket,” Mr. Ali said. He said the party would have to take a decision about its position as there were several unresolved issues such as resettlement of Muslims in their original lands and job opportunities in the province.

As one of the first steps toward preparations for elections, Chief Minister Chandrakanthan addressing a gathering in Batticaloa town yesterday told the people to be prepared for elections. Mr. Chandrakanthan told the Sunday Times his party had been assured 15 nominations for the council elections and the Chief Minister’s position.

In a related development, the Tamil National Alliance constituent parties met on Friday night in Colombo and decided to register the TNA as a political party with the aim of contesting provincial elections in the east.

Accordingly, the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) led by V. Anandasangaree and the Democratic People’s Liberation Front (DPLF) led by Dharmalingam Siddarthan will also come within the TNA.
“We will be contesting as a strong Tamil alliance. This is the need of the hour,” Mr. Siddarthan said.
The TNA also has launched a reorganisation programme in the eastern province.

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