Skip to comments.Ex-rebel Tamil party sweeps local polls in Sri Lanka’s north
Posted on 07/24/2011 1:07:15 PM PDT by bruinbirdman
People in Sri Lanka's war-ravaged north casted an overwhelming majority of their votes to the candidates of the major Tamil party at the local government elections held on Saturday, the Colombo Page reported on Sunday.
Despite the massive campaign launched by the ruling party United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) in the Northern districts where elections were held for the first time after 29 years, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), formerly controlled by the Tamil Tiger rebels, won 18 out of 26 councils. An estimated 60 percent of the 2.5 million eligible voters turned out to cast their ballots throughout the island.
The ruling party led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa carried out a massive campaign in the Tamil-dominated Northern Province, with the president himself campaigning in the former rebel strongholds for three days.
A victory for the ruling party in the Tamil-dominated districts of Jaffna, Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu meant an endorsement for the government's reconciliation process which has come under criticism from the international community. A victory for the Tamil party, however, will strengthen the demands for self-rule in the Tamil-dominated area.
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam was militarily wiped out in May 2009, ending the 26-year-old civil war. The bloody civil war between the government and the Tamil Tigers left as many as 100,000 people dead. Both sides have been accused of war crimes and other human rights violations.
The United Nations said tens of thousands lost their lives from January to May 2009 during the final phase of the military operations in the northern part of the country.
On Saturday, one person died and two others were injured as voting to elect members to 65 councils ended. The death was the result of a clash between two groups of supporters for two candidates of the ruling UPFA in Anuradhapura district.
Several cases of irregularity were also reported, despite the presence of the 20,000 police officers that were deployed to ensure a free and fair election.
The election monitoring group People's Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) confirmed allegations of election law violations in the north. The group said it received reports of people distributing food to the voters in Kilinochchi in return for the polling cards.
Election watch dog Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) said that a group of unidentified armed men went to more than 20 villages trying to forcibly grab polling cards from voters. The TNA also complained of people dressed in military uniforms grabbing polling cards and intimidating voters
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