Holding local elections to face legal action

[TamilNet, Friday, 27 January 2006, 16:38 GMT]
Holding elections to three hundred and sixty local government institutions based on the 2004 Voters' List has become a contentious issue among political parties and election monitoring institutions. The main opposition United National Party (UNP) has already filed a petition seeking the Court of Appeal to order the Commissioner of Election Mr. Dayananda Dissanayake not to hold the local government elections on the 2004 Voters' List. The UNP alleges that this list deprives about three hundred thousand voters of their franchise, legal sources said.

Mr.N.V.K.Weragoda, General Secretary of the UNP has filed the petition in the Court of Appeal citing the Commissioner of Elections as the respondent.

He states in his petition that during the last presidential poll held on November 17 last year, the names of about 94 thousand voters entitled to vote were removed from the 2004 Voters' List. About three hundred and fifty thousand voters would lose their franchise if the Election Department holds the local government elections based on the 2004 Voters' List. Hence the court should order the Commissioner of Elections to hold the proposed elections to three hundred and sixty local government institutions on a revised voters register for the year 2005 removing all discrepancies found in the 2004 Voters' Register, legal sources said.

Meanwhile Mr.Kingsley Rodrigo, Chairman of the People's Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) called on the Commissioner of Elections to defer the decision to hold elections local bodies until electoral registers are amended and the situation in the northeast improves.

Mr. Rodrigo further informed the Commissioner of Elections that his organization PAFFREL would take legal action if the local polls were held based on the 2004 Voters Register, since that would deny thousands of people eligible to vote for the first time at this poll.

Mr. Rodrigo in a letter to President Mahinda Rajapakse said it will be an undemocratic act if the local government election were held without resolving key issues connected with the poll into consideration. "If any election is to be held, we request you to use the 2005 elector register," Mr. Rodrigo said in the letter.


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