Jaffna Bishop rejects polls

[TamilNet, Saturday, 10 January 1998, 23:59 GMT]
The Catholic Bishop of Jaffna along with a group of senior clergymen declined to help the group monitoring local government elections in the peninsula today.

At a meeting held today with the seven election monitors from Colombo, Bishop Thomas Saundaranayagam of the Roman Catholic Church said that the Jaffna local government election was not in keeping with the wishes of the Tamil people.

He was with Rev. N. Nesakumar, Archdeacon of Jaffna and senior clergymen from other Christian denominations in Jaffna.

The Bishop said that the people of Jaffna had not asked for the elections and that the political parties taking part in the elections had been compelled to be to do so.

He reiterated that the atmosphere in Jaffna was not conducive for the elections. And he asked the election monitors how the clergy could show any interest in monitoring the polls in these circumstances.

Meanwhile, Wimal Fernando, a member of the election monitoring team complained at this meeting that the Eelam Peoples Democratic Party (EPDP) was saying one thing in Colombo and another in Jaffna.

He was responding to an EPDP statement appearing in Jaffna's Uthayan newspaper that the party had not signed an agreement with the other parties to eschew violence at the elections.

The election monitors later met the NGO Consortium of Jaffna and requested its assistance as well to monitor the polls.

A spokesperson for the Consortium said that the Jaffna people are living in an atmosphere that is not conducive for democratic elections. He said that their aspirations had not been fulfilled. Hence, according to him, the people of Jaffna are not in a position to decide for which party they should vote.

The seven member election monitoring Committee comprising two Sri Lankan NGO networks - the Peoples Action for Free and Fair Election (PAFFREL) and Movement for Free and Fair Election (MFFE)- flew to Jaffna on Friday, to work out the preliminaries for monitoring the elections on January 29.

Several members of the monitoring team, such as Sunandha Deshapriya and Arjuna Parakrama are seen among many Tamils as a soft peddling the PA's approach to the ethnic conflict.

 

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