Free of terrorism, the Northern Province, including the Jaffna district, is all set for the presidential poll on January 26 amidst signs of high voter enthusiasm.
Residents in Jaffna are showing a keen interest in the upcoming election and a high voter turnout is expected, polls monitors and elections officials said.
Jaffna District’s Assistant Elections Commissioner, P. Kuganathan, said election officials were carrying on with their work without any problems throughout the district and they were hoping to complete all arrangements by tomorrow evening.
This is the first national election to be held in the north in an atmosphere free of terrorist threat.
Mr. Kuganathan said 624 polling centres were being set up in the district and they included 95 booths for the displaced people of the Kilinochchi district.
He said voters living in the high security zones of Kilinochchi District would also be casting their votes in polling booths set up in areas bordering the Jaffna district.
The Assistant Commissioner said transport services had been arranged to facilitate people to come to polling booths set up in places away from their villages. “For instance, 19 polling centres in 13 different places were being set up for voters in the Pooneryn division. We are providing free transport service for them to go to the polling booth and back,” he said.
“Thousands of displaced people in camps in Tellipalai, Kaithady and Ramavil will also be provided with free transport to go to their polling booths.”
The Assistant Commissioner said people in the high security zones (HSZs) of Point-Pedro and the Kankesanthurai areas would be casting their votes at polling centres set up in schools just outside the HSZs.
Asked whether the production of the National Identity Card was necessary at the time of voting, Mr. Kuganathan said people should know that an acceptable identity document was necessary to cast their votes. He said some 11,000 voters had received new National Identity Cards in the past few weeks and the temporary identity cards issued during last year’s local council elections could also be produced if they had been renewed.
Meanwhile Wanni District’s Assistant Elections Commissioner A. Suthaharan said voters in the Wanni region comprising Vavuniya, Mullaitivu and Mannar would be voting in 209 polling centres, of which 20 would be for the displaced people. Seven of these polling booths were being set up in the Menik Farm camp.
He said some of the displaced voters registered in the Kilinochchi district and people resettled in Mullaitivu would be voting at polling booths in the Saivapragasam Vidyalayam in Vavuniya and the Vavuniya Tamil Maha Vidyalayam and they would be provided with free transport to go to the polling centres.
“Some 100 buses will be deployed for voters from Mullaitivu to go to their polling booths in Vavuniya and come back to their villages,” he said.
Election monitoring groups said they were expecting a high turnout at the upcoming poll as the voters were showing a keenness to use their franchise.
A.K. Sivasubramaniam, an official attached to People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL), said the people in town areas were more enthusiastic about casting their votes at the upcoming election.
He said he hoped some 60 percent of the voters would cast their votes this time. “This is because they understand the importance of their vote, given the bad experiences they faced in the past,” he said.