Southern province to go for polls on June 10

[TamilNet, Thursday, 29 April 1999, 12:20 GMT]
Sri Lanka's Commissioner of Elections announced today that polls to the island's Southern Provincial Council will be on June 10. The southern province comprises the districts of Galle, Hambatota and Matara. The elections to this province are considered another acid test for the ruling PA.

Developments in the southern province are being closely watched by politicians of all shades in Sri Lanka for the Janata Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), the revolutionary leftist party, is widely expected to emerge from this election as a formidable third force in the island's politics. The southern province has traditionally been viewed as the breeding ground of Sri Lanka's militant left.

Ten political parties and nine independent groups are in the fray. Seven hundred and seven candidates are in the contest to elect fifty five members to the Southern Provincial Council, including two bonus seats.

The political parties are: UNP, PA, JVP, People's Liberation Solidarity Front, New Left Front, People's Freedom Front, Mahajana Eksath Peramuna, Muslim United Liberation Front, Liberal Party, and the Sinhala Maha Sammata Bhoomiputra Pakshaya.

The People's Liberation Solidarity Front is a minor breakaway group of the JVP led by Dr.Kamal Karunadasa that was recognised as a politcal party by the Commissioner of Elections last week. The People's Freedom Front is also a group of ex-JVPers sources said.The Sinhala Maha Sammata Bhoomiputra Pakshaya is an ultra Sinhala Buddhist nationalist party that has consistently fared very poorly in all elections it has contested.

Nominations filed by the People's Freedom Party in Hambantota were rejected by the Returning Officer for the district. Four independent groups filed nominations in Hambantota, two in Matara and three in Galle.

The Commissioner of Elections said in a statement issued today "thirty five nomination papers were received during the seven and a half day period at the three nomination centres of district secretariats. However, the bulk of the nomination papers were handed over only this morning within a three hour period."

Informed political sources in the south said that this was due to last minute moves by the ruling party and the UNP to field independent groups to splinter the votes of their opponents.

 

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