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UK Tamils want British monitors to oversee vote


An organisation calling itself the British Tamil Conservatives (BTC) has urged the British government to deploy election monitors in Sri Lanka ahead of the first Northern Provincial Council polls scheduled for Sept 21.

Claiming that the Sri Lankan government was holding Northern PC polls due to international pressure, the BTC asserts that a free and fair election would largely depend on the deployment of polls observers.

The group said that the forthcoming polls would give those living in the Northern Province a rare opportunity to express their aspirations for what it called self-rule.

The BTC declared its support for the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) while urging the Tamil Diaspora organisations to throw their weight behind the Tamil leadership in Sri Lanka. The BTC said: "The TNA stands for the legitimate aspirations of Tamils’ self-rule and seek a political solution to a conflict that has not been resolved."

Deputy Elections Commissioner M. M. Mohamed yesterday told The Island that polls Chief Mahinda Deshapriya had requested for observers from member states of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) as well as the Commonwealth. The Election authority in Bangladesh had confirmed its participation in the monitoring mission, Mohamed said, adding that the deployment of foreign personnel was the prerogative of the polls chief.

Polls chief Deshapriya emphasised that the Election Secretariat would take all possible measures to prevent irregularities. The deployment of foreign polls monitors would be part of the overall strategy to create a level playing field in the run-up to the polls. Responding to a query,

Deshapriya said that the government as well as in the Opposition was aware of the measures taken by him to prevent irregularities. Deshapriya said that there was an ongoing dialogue involving all political parties contesting the Northern, Central and North-Western Provinces.
A senior spokesperson for the External Affairs Ministry told The Island that those calling for deployment of foreign observers had conveniently forgotten the circumstance under which the TNA was accused by the EU of being the beneficiary of violence unleashed by the LTTE in the run-up to Dec 2001 parliamentary polls. Civil society organizations as well as foreign missions that were constantly crying for free and fair elections here, however conveniently remained mum, the official said. ~ By Shamindra Ferdinando


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