20 March, 2006 - Published 18:06 GMT

Mixed reactions for NE polls delay

Political parties supporting President Mahinda Rajapaksa are divided over the decision to postpone elections for the local bodies in the north and east.

Buddhist monk-led Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) praised the decision by the election commissioner to put off the polls.

JHU parliamentary group leader Athuraliye Rathana thero told BBC Sandeshaya that there is currently no democracy in the region controlled by both the LTTE and the security forces.

“It is the LTTE who runs the area using the gun,” the thero told

EPDP reaction

He said parties such as EPRLF and PLOTE have already complained that the Tamil Tigers are not allowing them to carry out election campaigns.

The decision to postpone the elections does not necessarily make the north and the east a separate administrative unit, he added.

But the Ealam Peoples Democratic Party (EPDP) was very critical of the election commissioner’s move.

Former EPDP parliamentarian S Thavaraja said the party is disappointed that another opportunity to establish democracy in the region has been lost.

“We know there would have been lot of difficulties and it would not have been conducted in a fair manner even if the elections were held. But we want to re-establish the democracy,” he told BBC Sandeshaya.

Tamil Tigers

The EPDP questions as to why the local polls cannot be held if the authorities could hold parliamentary elections under the same conditions.

“22 MPs were elected under the same conditions, and if they can call themselves peoples representatives, what is the difficulty in electing the local government representatives,” the former legislator questioned.

A statement issued by the commissioner's department said that elections for 46 local bodies in Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mannar, Mulativu, Vavuniya and Batticaloa districts are to be postponed until 30 september.

But the polls for the local bodies in the eastern Sri Lankan districts of Trincomalee and Ampara are to be held as scheduled on 30 March.

There have been calls by the local politicians and the Tamil Tigers to wait until the security situation improves before calling for elections.

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) parliamentarian Nadaraja Raviraj told BBC Sandeshaya on Sunday that the LTTE could also take part if the polls are postponed at least until after the second round of talks between the government and the LTTE.

Overall, elections for 69 local bodies will be postponed in many districts due to different reasons.

The department is forced to postpone polls for 23 other local bodies, including the Colombo and Gampaha Municipal Councils, due to legal proceedings.