All systems ‘go’ for LG polls in the North

JVP, UNP say civil administration in Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu unstable due to de-mining, IDP resettlement
Preparations for the upcoming local government (LG) elections for the remaining 67 local bodies have begun with special attention on the Northern Province.

Elections to 234 of the 335 local councils were held on March 17, 2011. Elections for 34 local bodies were not held because of the Cricket World Cup tournament, while elections to another 65 councils were postponed due to legal challenges against rejection of nominations.

However, both UNP and JVP party representatives expressed their concern over conducting a fair election in the Northern Province which includes LG bodies in the Mullaitivu district, which were not ready for elections last March as the de-mining operations and resettlement of the Internally Displaced were still in progress. JVP Propaganda Secretary Vijitha Herath said that there were threats to party members and the situation is not conducive for an election campaign, as the civil administration is not stable in areas such as Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu,” he said.

He admitted that, even a basic campaign initiative such as putting up posters too is not a possible option in the current viewpoint, while adding that basic preparations for the election had started, as the JVP will be contesting in all the electorates wherein elections are held in a few week’s time.

Meanwhile, UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake said that preliminary steps for the upcoming election were taken last week and a meeting of the organisers of the respective areas to be held in the coming week. “Then we can get a clear idea as to the situation in the North and how we could conduct the elections,” he said, explaining that security is the main concern to conduct a fair election.

However, United People’s Freedom Alliance General Secretary Minister Susil Premajayantha assured that there will not be any security concerns in the Northern Province for the elections. “If other parties have any security concerns, they should have mentioned it when nominations were called for earlier this year,” he said.

Commenting on the Party’s preparations for the election, he said that most UPFA candidates have restarted their election campaigns which were stopped halfway due to the cancellation of the elections in March.

“Next week, we will be meeting the district organizers, where the elections are being held and finalise the election campaign and canvassing plan,” he added. Elections Additional Commissioner W.W. Sumanasiri said that if a request is made to make special arrangements for the elections, it will be looked into, adding that the matter could be discussed with the police too.

He confirmed that initial preparations for the elections had already begun.

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