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LTTE can contest elections under new SL law
T V Sriram in Colombo | October 24, 2007 17:53 IST
In a major initiative to bring rebels into the mainstream, Sri Lankan Parliament has passed a legislation to enable parties like the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the Karuna faction opposed to the Tigers to register themselves and contest elections in the country.
The Local Government (Special Provisions) Act incorporating an amendment to this effect was passed by a huge majority on Tuesday with 66 voting in favour and 12 against the law.
Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, Minister for Highways and Road Development, speaking on the debate, stated that nominations for elections for over 30 local government institutions forwarded had to be cancelled and provision made for those displaced to cast their votes at some other polling booths.
By cancelling the existing nominations, the election commissioner gets an opportunity to register new parties. By this the Karuna faction or the LTTE or any other party can seek registration and contest elections, the official Sri Lankan government website said, adding they can enter the democratic process.
The Supreme Court has given its nod to the act as it is in keeping with the constitution of Sri Lanka [Images], it said.
Since this provision was not in the earlier act, an amendment had become necessary. The eastern region, faced with similar circumstances, was now ready for the local government election, the website said.
Sri Lanka's leftist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna voted with the government while main Opposition United National Party abstained from voting. Tamil National Alliance voted against the legislation.
Currently, the LTTE is not a banned organisation in the country despite carrying out a separatist movement demanding a state for the ethnic Tamil population.
Fighting between security forces and the Tiger rebels has escalated with the unravelling of a Norwegian-brokered truce from late 2005. More than 5,400 people have since been reported to have been killed.