July 22, Colombo: Sri Lankan voters will go to polls again tomorrow to elect members to 65 local government institutions across the country but the main focus will be on the Northern Province where the elections are held after a lapse of 20 years.
Elections will be held for 16 Pradeshiya Sabhas and three Urban Councils in the Jaffna district, three Pradeshiya Sabhas in the Kilinochchi district and one Pradeshiya Sabha in the Mullaitivu district.
All major political parties, ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance (UFPA), major opposition party United National Party (UNP) and major Tamil party Tamil national Alliance (TNA) are contesting for all local bodies.
The ruling party has launched a massive campaign to win the voters in the North promising a better future and urging the Tamil people not to be deceived by the propaganda and consider the massive amount of development work the government has initiated to uplift the region’s economy and people’s lives.
The major Tamil party, TNA, which has a majority of seats in the parliament from the ethnic Tamil region, meanwhile, calls for the Tamil people to vote for their rights and autonomy.
The President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, himself campaigning in the North for the past few days pledged to rebuild everything the public in the North lost during the three-decade long war with the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels.
Minor opposition parties, the TNA and the Marxist JVP have alleged that the ruling party is misusing its power with the vast amount of state resources they have and the military presence to intimidate their candidates and voters to sway the polls.
A victory in the North for the ruling party will mean that the Tamil people are happy with government’s policies and its efforts for reconciliation.
Meanwhile, the government officials along with the ballot boxes have reported to the respective polling stations to conduct tomorrows election.
The police have enhanced security in the areas where the polls are to be held. The Election Commissioner has said that every measure has been taken to ensure free and fair polls.
The polling is scheduled to begin at 7:00 am and end at 4:00 pm. The election officials request voters to cast their vote as early as possible in the morning.
The election watchdog, Peoples Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) says it will monitor elections covering every polling booth.
Sri Lanka held elections for 234 of the 335 local authorities in the country on March 17 this year and the ruling party UPFA won 205 of the councils.
Elections for 34 localities were not held in March due to the hosting of Cricket World Cup and elections for another 65 councils were postponed due to legal challenges against rejection of nominations. Two more local government institutes in the Mullaitivu district were not ready for elections as the demining operations were still in progress.