"Denial of franchise will damage peace process"- TNA

[TamilNet, Monday, 15 March 2004, 14:46 GMT]
"Denial of franchise to Tamil voters residing in the Liberation Tigers held areas in the northeast province in the forthcoming general election will have serious impact on the current peace process," Mr.R.Sampanthan, leader of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and Secretary General of the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) told the Norwegian special peace envoy Mr. Erik Solheim during a discussion with the latter at the Norwegian embassy Monday morning, sources said.

The discussion which lasted for about forty five minutes between Mr.Sampanthan and Mr.Solheim centred on two matters, one was the question of allowing LTTE held area voters to exercise their franchise without any interruption by the security forces and the second was the Karuna affair in the east, sources said.

Norwegian ambassador Mr. Hans Bragattskar also participated in the discussion, sources said.

Tamil voters residing in the Liberation Tigers held areas in the northeast province should be allowed to freely, and without any restriction, exercise their franchise in the forthcoming general election, Mr.Sampanthan told the peace envoy.

According to election department sources, about 84 thousand voters reside in LTTE held areas in Vanni district, about 45 thousand in Batticaloa district and about 15 thousand in Trincomalee district.

However some understanding had been reached regarding the location of polling stations for voters in LTTE head areas in the districts of Trincomalee and Batticaloa. Authorities concerned have agreed to locate clustered polling stations in no man zones in Trincomalee and Batticaloa districts for LTTE held area voters.

"But uncertainty still prevails in regard to voters in LTTE held areas in the districts of Jaffna and Vanni," Mr.Sampanthan pointed out to Mr.Solheim, sources said.

Locating clustered polling stations in the army controlled area close to LTTE held area borders and subjecting the voters to body checks and other examinations would seriously interrupt the smooth polling and also would reduce the number of people who will be able to poll, Mr.Sampanthan pointed out.

Mr.Sampanthan said each clustered polling station should be provided with a European Union monitor and a local one on the polling day to ensure fair and free polling by LTTE held area voters.

Mr.Solheim replied that he would take up the matter with the authorities concerned and expressed confidence the problem could be sorted out in an amicable way.

 

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