Tamil groups promise to behave

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 06 January 1998, 23:59 GMT]
The Tamil parties contesting the Jaffna local government polls signed an agreement in Colombo today with the People's Alliance for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL), an election monitoring NGO, amidst strong doubts in many quarters whether any of the document's clauses would be honoured in practice.

Political observers in Colombo were of the opinion that the agreement was merely a cosmetic exercise.

The agreement drafted by PAFFREL says-

"We agree that conditions within the Jaffna peninsula are not yet normal and that security conditions have imposed severe constraints on the holding of a free and fair election to the local government bodies. The selection of candidates, ensuring their safety and campaigning have been hampered both by the security situation as well as fears generated by LTTE opposition to the polls;large numbers of eligible voters have been displaced and the local government election laws do not permit them to cast their votes from their temporary places of residence."

"Nevertheless, we are participating in the election to the local bodies in the hope that they will provide an opportunity for the people of Jaffna who last voted in 1981, to, elect representatives to them as the first step to rejoining the democratic mainstream."

"In an effort to make the election as free and fair as possible within existing circumstances, we jointly agree

to eschew violence and ensure that no violence or coercion will be used as between ourselves or in relations with our voters.

to create conditions in which all contestants can campaign freely in all areas in which elections are being conducted.

to conduct ourselves in a manner which will permit electors to make up their mind in an atmosphere of freedom.

"We welcome the efforts that are being made by citizens groups to monitor the election campaign and the polling."

 

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