TamilWeek Apr 2, 2006
TNA gets important councils in EP

By Sinniah Gurunathan

At Thursday's local council elections, The Tamil National Alliance
officially registered as the Ilankai Tamil Arasu Kadchchi won control of
one Urban Council and five Pradeshiya Sabhas of the two districts of
Digamadulla and Trincomalee in the eastern province.

Elections were held for twelve of the eighteen local councils in the
Digamadulla district and twelve of the thirteen local councils in the
Trincomalee district .

However Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake postponed
elections to about 45 local councils in the six districts of Jaffna,
Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu, Mannar, Vavuniya and Batticaloa. Elections
were put off for six months till September 30.Elections for the Kalmunai
Municipal Council and Pradeshiya Sabhas of Addalaichchenai,
Akkaraipattu, Pottuvil, Navithanveli and Ninthavur in the Digamadulla
district were not held due to court cases while elections were held for
the Ampara Urban Council, and the Pradeshiya Sabhas of
Dehiyattakendiya, Damana, Uhana, Maha Oya, Namal Oya,
Padiyattalawa, Lahugala, Sammanthurai, Karaitivu, Thirukovil and
Alaiyadivembu.

In a record showing the TNA wrested control of the Thirukovil and
Alaiyadivembu Pradeshiya Sabhas by winning all nine seats and won
four of the five seats of the newly created Karaitivu Pradeshiya
Sabaha.

The TNA was returned uncontested to the Trincomalee district's
Verugal Pradeshiya Sabaha which is located in the LTTE controlled
Eachchilampathu AGA's division bordering the Batticaloa district.
While Sabapathipillai Soundarajah was appointed Chairman Vairan
Nagendran was appointed Vice Chairman of the council.

The Elections Commissioner had already gazetted their appointments
which will take effect from April 15. Elections were also held on
Thursday to 12 other local councils including two urban councils and
ten Pradeshiya Sabahs in the Trincomalee district. After 12 years the
TNA took control of the 66-year-old Trincomalee Urban Council
winning 10 of 12 seats polling 16,368 votes while the other two seats
were won by an independent group which polled 4,286 votes.

The JVP with 895 votes and the EPDP with 259 votes fell far below the
required percentage to qualify for seat allocation. Though the UPFA,
UNP and SLMC did not contest under their party symbols they
contested as independent groups.

Two Muslims of the independent group, Sultan Farook, UPFA and
Noor Mohamed, UNP topped the list in preferential votes. A.H. Shahul
Hameed a member of the TNA list was also among one of the ten
elected councillors, nine of whom are Tamils including one woman.

They are S. Gowrimuhunthan, K. Selvarasa, K. Thurairasa, J.
Pulendraraj, P. Muniandy, S. Arulselvam, T. Karikalan, R.N. Varathan,
A.H. Shahul Hameed and R. Kanmani Amma. It was in 1884 under the
British rule that the local government system was introduced to
Trincomalee.

Till 1933 an institution called "Local Board" administered Trincomalee
and from 1933 to 1939 another local institution named the "Local
Development Board" administered the town. It was raised to Urban
Council status on January 1, 1940 though repeated requests made by
the civil society to upgrade the UC to Municipal Council status remains
unattended.

The Trincomalee UC administration which took office after the 1994
elections was dissolved in 1999 after an extension of one year but
since then the UC was directly administered by the central
government. Trincomalee town has been the administrative capital of
the North-East provincial council since 1988 when the provincial
councils system was introduced under the thirteenth amendment to
the constitution.

The TNA won control of the Trincomalee town and Gravets Pradeshiya
Sabha winning six of the nine seats with 10,573 votes. The UPFA won
two seats with 3,469 votes, the UNP won one seat with 2,388 votes
and the JVP polling only 828 votes failed to qualify for a seat. The
Trincomalee PS derives its revenue mainly from the Prima flour milling
complex,

Mitsubishi cement company and other industrial ventures which are
located within the Trinco PS boundary. Kinniya hot springs, a tourist
attraction located along Trincomalee - Anuradhapura Road also
comes under its authority.

An independent group led by former SLMC parliamentarian K.M.
Thowfeek won seven seats in the Muttur Pradeshiya Sabaha
consisting 11 members. The rest of the seats were won by the TNA.

Some ten thousand Tamil voters living in the LTTE-held Muttur east
villages who were eligible to vote were allowed to cast their vote at
cluster polling stations located in no-man's land between army and
LTTE-controlled areas. At last year's president election the cluster
polling stations were situated one km inside government-controlled
areas.

This was on a directive of the Supreme Court. But for the local council
elections the elections department reintroduced the earlier procedure
adopted at the parliamentary election.

An election department official said buses were sent in to LTTE
villages to transport voters to the polling centres in no-man's land
while the LTTE had also set up its own transport service to take voters
to their allotted polling centres.

At the election to the Muttur Pradeshiya Sabha which consists of 11
seats, independent group -2 polled 16,969 votes winning seven seats
while the TNA polled 12,004 winning four seats. The EPDP in a sad
showing polled 34 and independent group 1 only polled 25 votes.

The UNP won control of the Kinniya Urban Council, a newly created
local council by winning four seats while the UPFA won two seats with
one by the TNA.

Meanwhile the UNP won control of the Kuchchaveli Pradeshiya Sabha
with five seats and the TNA winning four seats. At the Seruvila
Pradeshiya the UPFA won five seats, the UNP 2, the JVP 1 and the
TNA 1.

Elections largely free and fair say monitors

The two election monitoring groups PAFFREL and CMEV in their
reports on monitoring Thursday's local council election said the polls
were mainly free and fair although there were a large number of
incidents of election-related violence and election law violations.

"The President's decision to deploy the army to support the police on
the day before the elections and his directive to the Inspector General
of Police to curb violence and electoral malpractice was a positive step
that helped to reduce the extent of violations", PAFFREL said in its
report.

PAFFREL deployed a total of 15,825 observers. Of them 14,825 were
stationary observers while 1,000 were used as mobile observers,
covering all districts where polling took place.

"A major shortcoming at this election was the flagrant violation of
election laws relating to the display of posters, cut-outs and banners.
The election authorities were unable to either prevent these from
being put up or to remove them in an effective way due to the large
numbers. In addition, both the ruling party and the UNP abused state
resources, such as vehicles, wherever possible, in conducting their
campaigns. The ruling party utilized the state media to their partisan
advantage", PAFFREL said.

Meanwhile the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence, the other local
monitoring group in its observations on the polls said the polling was
relatively violence free, but however raised concerns on the level of
violence reported at this local council election was higher than that of
last years presidential election.
[SundayTimes]