No elections in North or East
[TamilNet, Thursday, 25 March 1999, 20:45 GMT]
The Sri Lankan President announced today that elections to local government bodies in the Eastern province and the Vavuniya district which are to be dissolved on April 3 will not be held until "conditions improve" in these areas.
Several Tamil politicians who were elected to these bodies in March 1994 were angered and chagrined by the Presidential proclamation.
Asked by the TamilNet's area correspondent to comment on the government's decision to postpone elections indefinitely under the Public Security Ordinance Batticaloa Mayor Cheliyan Perinpanayagam said this evening:
"The voice of the people in the north and east has been crushed by the central government by continuing to run the North-eastern Provincial Council through the governor and officials who are not answerable to the people."
In these circumstances the only channel that remained through which the people could make their voice heard were the local government bodies.
The army took over ninety percent of the resources and assets of the Batticaloa Municipal Council (MC) while it was being run by a special commissioner.
The Koddamunai Library, the Batticaloa Rest House, the MC building complex, the MC quarters and the Weber stadium were seized overnight by the SLA. The MC was able to stop the army from taking over the remaining assets only after elected members of the council began expressing concern".
"Government officials cannot articulate the problems of the people when representatives of foreign governments visit our areas. This is a plan to strangle the voice of the people for good the way the NEPC was done with. We are not asking the government to extend the life of the local bodies but to hold elections and let the people be represented."
Mr.Perinpanayagam is the President of the Federation of the Local Government Chairmen of the Batticaloa district.
The Presidential communiqué on the dissolution of the local government bodies says "The election of local authorities comprising the Urban Council in the Vavuniya district of the Northern Province and 39 local authorities in the three distrcits of Batticaloa, Ampara and Trincomalee in the eastern province which consist of one Municipal Council, three Urban Council and thirty six Pradeshiya Sabhas were held on March 1, 1994.
Their terms of office commenced on April 3, 1994 and expired on April 3, 1998. Thereafter the Hon.Minister of Provincial Councils and Local Government extended the terms of office of the members of these local authorities till April 3,1999 by virtue of the powers vested in him by section 10(2)(b) of the MC ordinance, section 10 (2)(b) of the Urban Councils Ordinance and section 5(2)(b) of the Pradheshiya Sabha act no.13 of 1987 respectively.
Under the provisions of the said laws no further extension is possible.
In the above circumstances Her Excellency the President has decided to appoint the Divisional Secretaries of the respective areas as special commissioners to administer these local authorities until the conditions improve in these areas to hold elections. An order under Section 5 of the Public Security Ordinance will be published in the government gazette to give effect to this decision."